Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Fair Share

Posted by David Keelan on Sunday, June 10, 2007

I love how people come up with these nice names for terrible ideas.  The Howard County Board of Eduction and the Howard County Education Association are having a public disagreement over this principle ironically named “fair share”.

What is fair share?   A mandatory union fee to be paid by school system employees who are not members of the union.  Why charge someone to belong to your club if they are not a member?  The Baltimore Sun explains it this way:

The mandatory fee would be paid by teachers and support staff who are not union members but who benefit from union services.

I can not believe this.  What a load of pig dung.  What services?  The Sun nor the HCEA is ever really specific about this.  Give me a list of services. 

How many of us are the residual beneficiaries of someone elses work?  The Sierra Club (I am not a member but I appreciate some of their work), the NRA (I believe in the 2nd Amendment but I don’t own a gun), Ducks Unlimited (Conservation), in addition I work for a company with employees who are repesented by a couple of unions.

When the unions negotiate salary and benefits for these employees guess what those same benefits usually find their way in to the management benefits package.  The most obvious example of this is the granting of founder shares when my company merged with another.  We don’t get everything but we get most of it.  If the union came to my company and demanded that they begin deducting union fees from my pay check I would go ballastic and hire a lawyer.

I managed the Baltimore St. Patrick Day Parde for 3 years.  We brought thousands of people to downtown Baltimore on a day that nothing else is happening.  We created an event and a buzz around it.  We spent over $100,000 for that event every year and had a great time doing it.  It was hard work raising $100,000 from March 17 to March 17th every year.  We didn’t make lots of money – but we covered our bills.  However, the bars, the merchants, the restaraunts, and the city made lots of money.  We had a study done that estimated spending at the parade exceeded $1M.  We never saw one penny nor one tax dollar for our efforts.  Do you think Martin O’Malley or these businesses gave a rats !##.  You would be correct if you said they didn’t care and Martin O’Malley still insisted we pay the city $14k for traffic cops, road closures, and security (despite the tax dollars we raised).  Do you know what  I empathise with the HCEA – but my message to them is the same I got from Martin O’Malley – GET OVER IT.  What they are doing isn’t right.  If I want to have a parade then I have to pay for the parade.  What else am I going to do hold a parade in a field so none of the Baltimore City merchants and free load off my hard work?  Unlikely.

How about this one.  In business various lines of business always leverage the work of other lines of business to eek out a residual benefit for themselves and line of business.  Now only one of the LOBs is funding any initiatives, only one is fighting the budget battles, and sitting on endless conference calls cajoling people to get the work done.  But when the work is done others take the end result and apply it to their product or work group.  Who is crying about it?  No one.  That is life.  That is business.  It has been done to me and I have done it to others.  Is it bad business.  Not at all and no one minds it because they are looking to the greater good.  Ahem.

What is the purpose of this?  I think it is a money grab.  To read the HCEA’s explanation they sound like they would have to close their doors if they can’t charge non-members.  They make it sound like non-members are a bunch of cheats who take the fruits of their hard labor and work and won’t pay for it.  The fact is that the services they are talking about are contract negotiations which occur one every X years?  The non-members don’t take advantage of any other services the HCEA provides.  What are those benefits?

  • Transfers (non-procedural, merits)
  • Evaluations (non-procedural, merits)
  • Class Size
  • Parent Complaints
  • Conflict with Other Staff
  • Child Abuse (what to do if accused, procedures)
  • Suspension and Dismissal
  • Certification and 2nd Class Certificates
  • Lawsuits (including negligence, failure to educate)
  • Special Education Concerns
  • Workers Compensation Claims
  • Health and Safety
  • Environmental Conditions

This really infuriates me.  What specifically does this mean other than what I have already stated?

State law requires that HCEA treat non-members and members alike in respect to the contract. In effect, a non-member receives free services – services that are paid for by their dues-paying colleagues. Some people may not want to be members of HCEA, but we would like the opportunity to discuss with our Board the possibility of their paying a fee for the services they receive from HCEA.

Tell me more please.  Also, why not discuss it with your non-members.  Why negotiate with the BoE – it isn’t their paycheck.  Perhaps the reason you won’t speak to the non-members is that they have a message for you that you don’t want to hear.  I think that is closer to reality than the HCEA insinuate that they are a bunch of free loaders.

I certainly hope the Board of Education holds their ground on this issue if not the HCEA is going to demand 1% of the life time earnings of all Howard County school graduates since the students are in effect receiving free services in the form of well paid teachers represented by the HCEA. 

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