Thursday, April 28, 2005

Some one's got to post something of substance

So you all may have heard of the coordinated strike that went on here at Columbia and at Yale last week. I've tended not to side with the graduate students forming a union on 2 major grounds. First of all, I think that graduate students are students and not workers. Second, I felt that the quality of academic work overall might suffer from collective bargaining agreements (I'm pretty sure it would make it more expensive for the University to fund us, thereby decreasing the number of graduate students as well as Columbia's ability to compete with other top research universities) and that we could wrangle concessions from the University (dental insurance, child care . . . ) through striking without being affiliated with the UAW.

A number of students I know who are ambivalent about the union went on strike out of solidarity. I was still sustpect since it lent support ot a cause I'm not sure I or they agreed with.

However, a lot of us were recently galvanized when someone in the administration leaked this memo regarding punitive action that could be taken against graduate students.

I'm not sure how I can let this letter piss me off without being a hippocrite, but I'm open to ideas.

That all being said, I still think coal miners, steel workers, auto workers, administrators, custodians, etc . . . have a right to unionize.

I also still think that teachers' unions are extremely harmful and that teacher's rights should be protected through legislation rather than by interest groups that have an interest in maximizing pay and minimizing effort.

7 Comments:

Blogger Vergasy said...

More pay for less effort--isn't that common to all unions? Why can't we just trust the political process to protect all workers? Why can't we just let them eat cake if they have no bread? Why have you turned to fascism?

9:31 PM  
Blogger Tally Ho said...

Fascists have neat clothes. Also, when coal miner's load 15 tons instead of 16 tons that sucks a little for Mining Conglomerate Inc., but when teachers teach poorly it has negative effects on (1) individual's life chances (2) economic productivity and growth (3) the production of dumb-asses who make bad choices in the voting booth.

Sadly this isn't the first time today I was accused (falsely, let posterity note) of being a fascist.

12:25 AM  
Blogger Tally Ho said...

Fascists have neat clothes. Also, when coal miner's load 15 tons instead of 16 tons that sucks a little for Mining Conglomerate Inc., but when teachers teach poorly it has negative effects on (1) individual's life chances (2) economic productivity and growth (3) the production of dumb-asses who make bad choices in the voting booth.

Sadly this isn't the first time today I was accused (falsely, let posterity note) of being a fascist.

12:53 AM  
Blogger Vergasy said...

doesn't the coal miner cutting back also effect economic productivity and growth? also, if education effects voting patterns, do we really want politicians in charge of it?

9:10 AM  
Blogger Ger said...

I tend to agree with Allan on this one. I understand your theoretical problems with distinguishing between unions, but I think something has to be done to deal with the practical problems that the teachers' union has helped create. Solving the problem legislatively on the federal level doesn't seem like the most viable solution. I'd leave it to the states and localities--they have a much bigger role to play in their own schools and much more accountability.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Vergasy said...

i recongnize the public good aspects of public education. i'm just saying that there are institutional problems with trusting the matter to legislatures, state or federal. Legislatures like teachers unions have other concerns than producing that particular public good, especially when that public good is not clearly recognizable or readily attributable to them.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Tally Ho said...

I agree. It has a lot to do, I think with 2 things. First is the impact of special interest money and the other being the fact that politicians have to maximize average welfare and so the bigger districts are (and the lower # elected from each district) the more likley is this average to include the particulars. . . . all meaning that state and national legislatures won't be able to help out much in the solution . . . on the local level, nepotism, perverse incentives, and general incompetence seem to be some of the biggest problems.

6:14 PM  

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