Minnesota Teacher Union Bosses Ignore Reality
State Monopoly-Bargaining Statutes Prop up Big Labor Delusions
Over the past quarter century, the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) system, like many other school districts located throughout most of the U.S., has experienced plummeting enrollment and skyrocketing per pupil expenditures.
In 1997-1998, as education journalist Mike Antonucci recently noted, citing the archives of the Digest of Education Statistics, MPS “educated 49,157 students” at a cost of $13,076 per pupil in 2018 dollars.
By the 2017-18 academic year, MPS enrollment “had dropped to 32,722 students and the district spent $16,571” per pupil. That’s a 27% increase, above and beyond inflation as measured by the U.S. Labor Department.
These facts are undeniable.
But you would never guess how taxpayer-funded “education” expenditures have soared even as the number of pupils dwindled from the rhetoric of the union officials who orchestrated the 14-day strike that shuttered Minneapolis schools in March.
Big Labor Demands Would Cost MPS $166 Million a Year That It Doesn’t Have
Brazenly ignoring the actual data, late this winter Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT/AFT/AFL-CIO) union chief Greta Callahan trashed taxpayers and elected officials who resist foisting even heavier burdens on them for supposedly choosing “to not invest” in government education.
“As Mike Antonucci pointed out in a March 9 analysis of the Minneapolis strike, Ms. Callahan’s rhetoric is ‘divorced from the realities of school funding and staffing’ in her jurisdiction, even by the extremely low standards of union bosses,” said National Right to Work Committee Vice President Greg Mourad.
“Even before the strike began, the MPS system was facing a $26 million budget shortfall for the 2022-23 academic year.
“That would be $97 million without a windfall the district is getting at federal taxpayers’ expense, primarily because of so-called COVID-19 ‘relief’ legislation signed by President Joe Biden in 2021.
“Had MFT union bosses secured all their strike demands, MPS would have had to fork over an estimated additional $166 million a year in revenue the district doesn’t have.
“Unfortunately, labor laws currently on the books in Minnesota and more than 30 other states encourage union bosses to live in a fantasy world, by forcing elected officials to negotiate with Big Labor over even exorbitant and harmful demands.
“Under monopoly-bargaining laws, elected officials and their appointees are not allowed simply to manage public employees in the way they believe best serves the public interest. They have to keep government union bosses happy, or face strikes or other ugly consequences.”
Committee Is Leading Foe Of State Government-Sector Monopoly-Bargaining Schemes
The National Right to Work Committee and its over two million members have long opposed state laws authorizing and promoting deals in which the bosses of a single union become civil servants’ “exclusive” voice on compensation and other workplace matters.
The Committee’s opposition to these schemes is not primarily based on the ample harm they do to taxpayers.
The main basis for Right to Work’s stance is that monopoly bargaining forces workers who prefer not to join a union to allow that union to speak for them on all matters concerning their pay, benefits, and work rules.
“While state monopoly-bargaining laws spread like a virus during the 1970’s and 1980’s, and subsequently became entrenched, grassroots opposition to them is now rising,” noted Mr. Mourad.
In 2021, concerned citizens in Arkansas, assisted by National Right to Work, successfully pushed for passage of legislation banning monopolistic unions in schools, colleges and courts.
Monopoly Bargaining Rollback a Growing Possibility in Virginia
And this year, the Committee has helped citizen activists in Colorado stall a scheme to extend Big Labor’s power to mandate monopoly bargaining to K-12 schools and other local government institutions, despite union-boss operational control of both the state House and Senate.
This year, the Committee also gained ground in its bid to help Virginians overturn a state law giving a green light to local monopoly bargaining pacts less than 12 months after it took effect.
On February 15, the Virginia House of Delegates approved H.B.883, legislation that would roll back Big Labor monopoly bargaining over teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public servants.
In advance of the floor vote on H.B.883, the Committee wrote all state delegates to urge their support for this legislation. Moreover, Mr. Mourad traveled to Richmond on February 8 to testify in favor of it.
“There is an intense public backlash against government union bosses’ abuses in Virginia and in many other states,” said Mr. Mourad.
“This year, the state Senate, whose members did not have to face the voters in the 2021 Elections, blocked monopoly-bargaining repeal. But it is a growing possibility all the same.”
This article was originally published in the National Right to Work Committee monthly newsletter. Go here to access previous newsletter posts.
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