Thursday, June 23, 2011

Teabaggers march on St. Tammany

Conservative activists proudly allied with wingnut Glenn Beck are attacking the St. Tammany Parish collective bargaining agreement, as reported here by Jim Derry of The Times Picayune.

Since 1993, teachers and school employee in St. Tammany Parish have had a harmonious and productive partnership with their school board. It's the only school district in the state in which every non-administrative teacher and school employee has a binding contractual agreement with the school board (several other systems negotiate with some categories of employees; St. Tammany has the only "wall-to-wall" contract in the state).

St. Tammany is also one of the highest-achieving school systems in Louisiana, so you'd think that people would be loathe to interfere with a process that is working to the benefit of all involved.

But this is a strange political season, and ultraconservative teabaggers are on the march.

Using the same arguments that State Rep. Anthony Ligi recently made in an unsuccessful bid to change state collective bargaining law, the activists are demanding to be included when the board and the St. Tammany Federation of Teachers and School Employees negotiate their contract.

For the record, the contract between the school board and the union cannot be adopted until it has been ratified by the employees and adopted in a public session by the school board.

But the negotiations that lead to the contract are never done in public. And that is for the very same reason that presidents, governors and mayors negotiate all their administrative contracts privately before bringing them to the full body for a public vote.

A lot of ideas are discussed in negotiations. Many of them never get into the contract. Some very good ideas are discarded because the sides cannot come to agreement on them. The same is true of some very bad ideas. And sometimes the discussions get pretty heated before everybody comes together with a contract that they can all agree upon.

As Gov. Jindal likes to say about negotiations to bring new industries into the state, the discussions are just too sensitive to be public until an agreement is ready for unveiling.

But that logic won't cut any ice with the group in St. Tammany. They are not really interested in the collective bargaining agreement anyway. As their leader told the Times-Picayune, the union should be "abolished.

No comments: