July 1, 2011

Curbing Unions Grows Services

When the Governor of Wisconsin signed legislation that eliminated collective bargaining for certain classes of public employees, you'd think that the State had just ground their children into hamburger and consigned the rest of them to concentration camps. Now, there is a different story finally coming to light.
From the Wisconsin Examiner:

The Kaukauna School District, in the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin near Appleton, has about 4,200 students and about 400 employees. It has struggled in recent times and this year faced a deficit of $400,000. But after the law went into effect, at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, school officials put in place new policies they estimate will turn that $400,000 deficit into a $1.5 million surplus. And it's all because of the very provisions that union leaders predicted would be disastrous.

In the past, teachers and other staff at Kaukauna were required to pay 10 percent of the cost of their health insurance coverage and none of their pension costs. Now, they'll pay 12.6 percent of the cost of their coverage (still well below rates in much of the private sector) and also contribute 5.8 percent of salary to their pensions. The changes will save the school board an estimated $1.2 million this year, according to board President Todd Arnoldussen.

There are also other benefits to this action...

Then there are work rules. "In the collective bargaining agreement, high school teachers only had to teach five periods a day, out of seven," says Arnoldussen. "Now, they're going to teach six." In addition, the collective bargaining agreement specified that teachers had to be in the school 37 1/2 hours a week. Now, it will be 40 hours.

The changes mean Kaukauna can reduce the size of its classes -- from 31 students to 26 students in high school and from 26 students to 23 students in elementary school. In addition, there will be more teacher time for one-on-one sessions with troubled students. Those changes would not have been possible without the much-maligned changes in collective bargaining.

Teachers' salaries will stay "relatively the same," Arnoldussen says, except for higher pension and health care payments. (The top salary is around $80,000 per year, with about $35,000 in additional benefits, for 184 days of work per year -- summers off.) Finally, the money saved will be used to hire a few more teachers and institute merit pay


Doom said...

One of the things I noted, in that article, was that because the unions couldn't force the school district to only negotiate services with one provider as they had been, the school was able to renegotiate much more fairly for... health insurance... I think. The school had not only been required to pay for more or all of it, they were also required by the contract to buy it from a union front or crony group. They had no room to negotiate price or provider.

One of the things often missed when dealing with unions is how crooked they begin to make every part of every process, adding fees, expenses, monopolies, less work, useless positions, and other costs to any system. They actually try to inhibit productivity and price competitiveness. They had their time but they all need to be busted now. State and private, every. single. union. Busted.

sig94 said...

Doom - I still belong to a union (a PBA) but we are pretty well declawed under NYS law. Even so, more and more of our benefits are being shouldered by the membership - and rightfully so. Those benefits were originally given to us when cops were paid nothing - I started at less than $5/hr. My nightshift differential was 5 cents an hour.

Well, those salaries are considerably more today; in fact much, much more and so are the costs of health/dental/pension benefits. The times have changed and so must the compensation packages.

Anonymous said...

Public sector unions are in the process of creating a backlash against all unions. That would be unfortunate.

Fredd said...

Unions are by their very nature anethema to productivity. Productivity is defined by unit of output per time period. All union thugs go into every bargaining sessions demanding less output.

Their time, especially public sector unions, have come and gone.

And although I am loathe to disagree with Nicki G., I can't say I will lose any sleep knowing that the public sector unions are giving all unions a black eye, which certainly seems valid lately. All unions, public or private, seek to limit productivity. And that is bad for our economy.

Anonymous said...

Fredd, I must admit that the health of our economy is not usually well-served by unions. The pendulum certainly swings in a wide arc.

Kid said...

I have no problem with private unions. If their host company can stay competitive (read:In business) then more power to them.

I have a problem when public union people declare themselves immune from economic conditions aside from private sector who are already being shafted, serving to shaft the private sector people even more. I'd like to see public sector unions GONE. There is no reason for them with the current state of discrimination and workers rights laws.

Sounds like Wisconsin is beginning the cure.

The extra upside to his is the real lowers in the system won't stay resulting in better education and services all around. Capitalism just makes things good.

Kid said...

'real losers in the system'.

Doom said...

Nickie Goomba,

I'm not sure why you perceive private unions as a good thing? Too many, if not all, union bosses and such have literal socialist, communist, or mafia ties (or all groups). I still remember Hoffa disappearing, and all who they checked when trying to find what happened to him.

Now, if you are worried about, with the loss of unions, going back to civil war era "work ethics", yeah, okay. While Lincoln freed black slaves, he did nothing for the white northern factory slaves, forced to buy from company stores and rent quarters from the company, where even children worked long hours, and horrors abounded, dieing in debt. There was a time for unions, no doubt.

sig94 said...

The problem with any union is when they join with politicians to get favorable legislation. NY is not a right to work state even though to be a cop you don't have to join the union. Private industry, no. Union shops are closed shops, you have to be a member and pay dues. Same thing goes for prevailing wage laws - non union contractors are forced to pay the union rate. That and the "living wage" local laws - all they do is force companies to pay extravagant salaries and benefits to otehrwise minimum wage earners. We used to have several very large automotive plants here in CNY. A cop buddy introduced me to his brother who was a UAW official for the local union. Absolute horror stories on what the unions forced the companies to do and were empowered to do so by state and federal law.

Assaults on company property, drug dealing, work sabotage - no one was so low as to not be defended to the utmost by the union. And these losers made 95% of their salaries when laid off. Now there are no auto plants here - Gee, wonder why?