(Michael Chambelain/Nevada Business Coalition) – Over the weekend union members rallied in opposition to Governor Sandoval’s budget and education reform measures.
Teachers union members were joined by members of the SEIU. As has been their standard during budget discussions, the air was filled with hyperbole and demonization of those who don’t subscribe to their belief that the only way to improve education and government is greater funding and less accountability – give them more money and leave them alone.
“The hopes and dreams of our future all rest in here,” Ruben Murillo, president of the Clark County Education Association, said while pointing to a coffin meant to symbolize the end of education in Nevada. “We are not to be messed with.” He opened the coffin and said, “let’s get the message out to Sandoval, and God have mercy on him because (the budget cuts are) totally immoral.”
What is “totally immoral” is continuing to force taxpayers to pour more of their diminishing hard-earned dollars into a system that is failing their children. What is “totally immoral” is compensating teachers more for engaging in activities that do not improve their ability to teach our children. What is “totally immoral” is paying the worst teachers exactly the same as the best teachers, especially when studies have shown a bad teacher can cost a child one-half year’s development for every year in his class and a good teacher can add a half-year’s development every year.
Governor Sandoval’s reform proposals are a step toward directing resources to the benefit of the children rather than the adults in the education establishment.
Al Martinez, president of the Service Employees International Union of Nevada, started a chant among the crowd, saying “Show me democracy, we want democracy.” He said teachers aren’t against making sacrifices, but others need to share in those sacrifices.
“I think it’s totally immoral what they’re trying to do to our teachers,” he told protesters. “We’re not afraid to give up something, but we want everybody else to give up something.”
What is “totally immoral” is requiring taxpayers to fund activities that are intended to pry more money out of their pockets. What is “totally immoral” is forcing taxpayers to pay the people who represent the other side in negotiations. What is “totally immoral” is the cycle of soaking the taxpayers, in which government unions use their wealth to help elect politicians who will grant them ever more lucrative contracts providing the unions even more resources to elect politicians who will bow to them during contract negotiations – all the while leaving taxpayers holding the bag.
While they talk about sacrifice, what exactly have SEIU members given up over the course of the recession?
While private sector workers’ pay and benefits have been slashed during the recession, SEIU members who work for Clark County have continued to receive raises. In fact, Clark County taxpayers will be paying most SEIU members 30%-40% more this year than they did during the height of the economic boom, even after the union’s so-called 2% pay “cut.”
Sometimes there is a greater story in what is unsaid instead of what is said. Eleazar “Al” Martinez has a full-time job as the President of SEIU Local 1107. However, Eleazar “Al” Martinez is compensated, not by the union, but by Clark County taxpayers to the tune of $100k+ every year. Furthermore, as long as he is union President he cannot be laid off. This arrangement, in which the SEIU President works full-time for the union but is paid full-time by the taxpayers, is a provision of the SEIU contract with the County.
Martinez is not the only one. There are at least five other SEIU workers whom taxpayers are forced to pay for at least part of their time working for the union. In addition to that, taxpayers are forced to pay into a bank – an amount equal to another full-time employee – that union members can dip into to pay themselves for engaging in activities on behalf of the union.
Our current systems of education and government are in dire need of reform. The education system fails in its primary function, which is to educate and prepare our children. Our government continues to spend more money every year with diminishing results. It is “totally immoral” to demand that taxpayers continue to dig deeper into their own pockets to fund the failing the status quo.
(Michael Chambelain is Executive Director of Nevada Business Coalition.)