Welcome to my asylum for ideas and thoughts on movies, politics, culture, and all things Bruce Springsteen.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


This just in, Chris Daughtry is going home tonight. Pretty surprising, but with only four contestants left, of course, someone had to. He was ticked; the crowd was bummed; ultimately, he'll do just fine being fronted with a band and a cool look and sound away from the teeny bopper Idol scene. So long, Chris, it's been good to know ya.

Without putting my job in jeopardy, I do want to rant about a series of e-mails flying around my place of work. My school's having some serious labor/contract issues between the union and the district; teachers are watching their health care out-of-pocket costs skyrocket. Are we being driven out of our profession? Of course not. Will I not make my mortgage? Surely not happening. However, what has been seen in these deliberations is a stonewalling stance by the district, an explicit message that the teachers in the district are not valuable to hold on to. Now, the community in which I live has seen the real estate market go berserk over the last five years; I wouldn't have been able to live where I do if I had bought even four months after the date I actually did. While the market's hot, it's still the "most affordable" (read, least unaffordable) city in the Bay Area. I like my little town and I like my school. However, I believe the district's making a huge mistake by not showing an interest in meeting the union's demand of helping cover the rising cost of health care. I now pay more out of pocket at my current job than my previous district covered! If teachers and their families can't afford to remain in the area, how can schools keep their goals of great improvement, bragging rights and the hope that its competitive packages will draw teachers from more crowded, more unaffordable districts? Besides, wouldn't a district want to raise packages and hold that over teachers' heads in the goal of driving up quality teaching or replacing poor teachers with better teachers enticed to the area from better school districts? While this will always remain an us/them conflict, what is driving me nuts are the suck-up teachers who seem to be moles for the district, stirring up teachers' anger and impatience towards anyone unwilling to hope for the improvement of our salaries and benefits. One particular example was today, when a new teacher ranted about how the union doesn't serve him and spends his hard-earned money on issues that he personally doesn't support. After reading his e-mail, I made the bad choice of firing off a rant to some friends about my colleague's statement. Ultimately, who the hell loves a union? I agree; I'd love to see my $100 a month dues in my paycheck. However, a union is like auto insurance or the police department; a necessary evil. Now, don't flip out in thinking that I said cops are evil, however, when was the last time I needed my insurance agent or a cop? My taxpaying dollars pay for a service I don't need; my premium keeps increasing and I haven't filed a claim except for a broken windshield. However, I have not had my house broken into nor have been in an accident. Only then will I be thankful that both institutions exist as they will serve my best interest and do so better than I will ever be able to on my own. My colleague, woefullly out of line, is a first-year teacher. He's not tenured; he has no job security. What if something happened at that school with a teacher or administrator who had a personal vendetta against him? What if a student made up a false story or brainwashed mom and dad into thinking the teacher discriminated against that student? Where would the teacher be without the union? Sure, you have the right to defend yourself in court and yeah, a lawyer's expensive, but wouldn't you want an expert doing one's job defending you? This guy's got no idea how ruthless things can be and if he ever finds himself on the ass-end of a parental foot, he'll thank God for the existence of the union at our site. While I believe we teachers will lose this labor dispute and see our health premiums pretty close to double by 2007, this fight is doing nothing but solidifying my faith in the union, unions for workers and the belief that when labor is attacked by the employer for nothing more than the simple bottom line, EVERYONE loses. Unfortunately, we live in a time where the majority of Americans, because maybe they're losing so much, have no problem watching others around them lose what they thought they had.