In Culver City, Calif., a local union wants to force unionization of — get this — parent volunteers at the local public schools. At several schools in the city, parents have banded together to form non-profit booster clubs to fundraise for and hire part-time teacher’s helpers, who also mostly come from the ranks of the parents themselves.
The local union — the Culver City Association of Classified Employees — is not OK with that kind of initiative. The union wants the parents to continue to fundraise, but to send the funds directly to the school district so the district can then hire union employees to fill the part-time positions. As the union’s scheme makes clear, the school district presently doesn’t have the money to hire anyone to fill the roles parents have voluntarily filled. The parent volunteers aren’t stealing existing jobs from union employees.
The union has taken its request to the labor-friendly Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), a “quasi-judicial administrative agency that is charged with upholding and administering collective bargaining statutes that cover employees working in California schools.”
If the union has its way, parents will have to raise even more funds to cover the additional costs of union dues, administrative overhead and higher union wages — but they’ll have no say over hiring, control, supervision or decision-making. What’s to incentivize the fundraising in that scenario? As likely as not, parents will just stop putting forth the effort to raise funds in the first place — and students will lose the benefit of the added help in the classroom.
According to UnionWatch.org, this one local union’s war against volunteers isn’t an isolated example. From the website:
There are so many facets to the problem of public sector unions that one of their most outrageous abuses, their war on volunteerism, is barely covered by the media. But it happens all the time, especially in public education. If any volunteer does work that could be done by a unionized worker, even if no funds exist to hire that worker, the union is likely to use all their power to stop that volunteer from providing their services.
Last year, it was the unionization of babysitting. This year, it’s the unionization of volunteering. What’s next?
In case anyone’s forgotten, public employee unions are fundamentally different than their private-sector counterparts. In many states, efforts to curb public employee unions are essential to ensuring taxpayers receive services as efficiently and affordably as possible. UnionWatch.org explains:
Whether or not you agree with unions in the private sector, the justification for unionizing government workers rests on very different, and far more debatable assumptions. The purpose of government is to provide services to citizens as efficiently and equitably as possible. The purpose of unions is to extract as much money and benefits to their members as possible, as well as to acquire more members. These two purposes are intrinsically in opposition. In the private sector, unions oppose management, and union demands are mitigated by the fact that private companies must compete for customers and must therefore operate efficiently. In the public sector, unions are essentially opposing taxpayers, and the efficiency and the expense of government is not checked by market forces because the government is a monopoly with the power to force citizens to pay taxes.
It’s compassion and concern for all taxpayers that motivates efforts to limit the power of public employee unions.