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Union Silliness Brightens My Snowy Day

A little humor is always appreciated on a cold, snowy day like today. I could tell you knock-knock jokes, or show you a video of kittens chasing balls of yarn, or maybe even share a witty meme. Or, I could just talk about the latest antics of the teachers union.

Most of my faithful readers know that I tend to find some type of  entertaining irony—or hypocrisy, or bewildering logic, or ulterior motive—in a great deal of what the teachers union gets up to. Maybe that’s because I’m an evil, mindless Koch puppet, or maybe it’s because the unions are actually prone to saying and doing patently absurd things when they think doing so may help out a political cause. I tend to believe the latter, and would like to offer two further pieces of evidence to support my case this morning.

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of reading an article about NEA’s push to “address income inequality” from Tom Gantert of the Michigan-based Mackinac Center (where, incidentally, my policy friend Ben DeGrow will soon be working). All things considered, such a position isn’t very surprising on its face. Unions of all stripes do, after all, hold themselves out as populist bastions of hope for the working class.

Unfortunately, union leaders seem to be a lot better at talking the talk of the everyman than they are at walking the walk. From the article:

Former NEA President Dennis Van Roekel made $429,509 in salary and had a total compensation of $541,632 in 2014 in his final year as NEA president, according to a financial report the union filed with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia succeeded Van Roekel as president of NEA in September 2014. She is one of the high-profile signers of the Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality, a movement to collect signatures from celebrities and high-powered professionals in support of national laws addressing issues such as paid sick leave, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit subsidy, and raising the federal minimum wage.

In 2014, as vice president of the NEA, Garcia had a $262,521 salary and a total compensation of $345,728.

Nothing says “man (or woman, if we have to be politically correct) of the people” better than a compensation package of more than $300,000.

Now, I don’t fault these folks simply for making money, just as I don’t fault anyone else simply for making money. But one does have to wonder a little about the sincerity of high-paid individuals—and particularly high-paid individuals who earn their massive keep by purporting to represent teachers earning exponentially less than them—when they began railing against the evils of income inequality.

But hey, maybe the union bosses really need all that money. It’s important work they do, after all. In fact, the California Teachers Association recently distributed an information card insinuating that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against “fair share fees” (i.e., forced payments to unions from non-union employees) in the important Friedrichs case would result in lower wages, lower access to health insurance, and… death. Yes, death. More specifically, “a 36 percent higher rate of workplace deaths.” No, I’m not making this up.

I could spend all day making fun of the absurdity of the implication that classroom teachers will literally die if their non-union coworkers don’t have to pay agency shop fees, but Mike Antonucci, who originally uncovered this lovely gem, has already done admirable work with that.

For now, I’ll simply laugh, shake my head, and walk away. See you next time!