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Unity is Strength: Independence Institute Staff Take the Plunge and Unionize

You know, maybe I’ve been too hard on teachers unions. Just this year, I’ve celebrated their declining membership rates, poked fun at their colossal loss of money in the 2014 election cycle, and had a little too much fun reliving an extraordinarily entertaining “battleflop” by Jeffco’s local teachers union.

Who can blame me? My big boy policy friends at the Independence Institute are always talking about union political spending, making sure union negotiations are required to be public, and helping teachers learn more about how they can opt out of paying union dues. Ben DeGrow did a scathing analysis of posts on the Jefferson County Education Association’s Facebook page back in January, and just this month Ross Izard published an article decrying union efforts to undermine tenure reform and accountability systems in education. I’m just a little guy, and I’ve got to follow the grownups’ lead.

But now it seems like the grownups may be changing their minds. Faced with impossible expectations and the cruel management of Jon Caldara, staff members are banding together for support.

More and more stories are beginning to surface about potential discrimination. Jon apparently fired education policy analyst Ross Izard twice in one week (he was rehired both times) simply for having a red beard that doesn’t match the hair on his head. Even worse, Education Policy Center Director Pam Benigno has threatened to let both Senior Education Policy Analyst Ben DeGrow and his wife, Marya, go unless they agree to take on a less-difficult-to-type last name. She also ordered an intern to perform 100 hours of hard labor for pronouncing the “g” in her last name.

That’s not all. Amy Oliver-Cooke, executive vice president of the Institute and director of the Energy Policy Center, has banned the wearing of the color green within three city blocks of the Independence Institute office. Complete Colorado’s Todd Shepherd has sworn to help enforce this top-down mandate by “vigorously investigating” the area immediately surrounding the office.

Today, Independence Institute staff have decided that enough is enough. Arms locked in solidarity, they boldly walked into Caldara’s office, looked him right in the eyeball, and slapped a contract down on the table. Yes, the Independence Institute is unionizing. I’ve seen the contract with my own eyes. Just check out these excerpts:

Article 7a-54-aa-c-3-43-i-c(5): The word “metric” and any synonyms, neologisms, allusions, or references derived thereof will be immediately and permanently struck from the lexicon of the Independence Institute.

Article 76-a-f-45-678(d)(f)(II): This contract and all agreements contained herein must be negotiated not more than every 15 years at a secret location. These negotiations shall not be posted, recorded, broadcast, reported on, spoken about, referred to, referenced, mentioned, or open to the public in any form whatsoever.

Article 76-b: The word “transparency” may only be used in reference to glass and/or other physical surfaces that have been deemed actually transparent by at least three independent scientific opinions.

Article 3-54-987(e)(VI)(54)-65: Non-probationary employee status shall be granted upon the completion of three weeks of continuous employment. Termination proceedings involving non-probationary employees must be conducted in accordance with procedures outlined Articles 1(I)(p), 2(e), 3(VII)(z), 4, 5, 6(h)(IV)(e), 7(g), 8(u)(IV)(f), 9, 12(I)(f), 19, 23, 35(VIII)(y)(d), 46, 67, 84, 92, 101(c), and all relevant statutes, regulations, codes, ordinances, bylaws, verbal agreements, legal opinions, court precedents, and rules.

Article 67-4(b): Snacks must be provided at all times. Cookies preferred.

The contract negotiation will take place next week (I think, it’s difficult to tell given the rules about disclosing these meetings). In the meantime, Institute staff are pumping themselves up for the big game. Phrases like interest-based bargaining, collaboration is power, and strength through unity now echo down hallways once reserved for conversations about free markets and untethered workers. It’s been an interesting shift, to be sure. But there’s no going back now. It’s time to unite!

I hope that by now you’ve looked at your calendar and seen that its April 1st. Yes, that means it’s April Fools’ Day! Yes, that means that this is all a silly joke (which most of you undoubtedly figured out pretty quickly). And yes, I had entirely too much fun writing this post to justify it as work. But hey, we only get to do this once a year. We may as well enjoy it, right?

Happy April Fools’ Day!