Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Insider Information

A KGW poster sent me a note saying management lost its second major union grievance when it required reporters working extra weekends to take compensation time during the week, rather than getting overtime.

This stuff happens all the time.

The question is, why do employees let it?

When are you going to start working for the school district or the cop shop as its information czar?

That twice weekly paycheck is pretty nice, but is it worth your dignity?

I never hear about this with the O, WWeek or the Trib. I think its because when you work for the newspaper, you realize you're a reporter on a beat, with things to cover that don't necessarily fit your lifestyle.

People in radio and TV think the other way. Plus, they all want to work M-F, 9-5.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got news for you--being a PIO isn't all cake and pie. We've got our share of dignity challenges!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 11:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...on an unrelated note, KGW just debuted a new reporter last night - Scott Burton, who I believe previously worked for KTNV in Nevada.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm an interested Media Outsider. I just read it/see it/hear it/ignore it. My question: Why do people who work in the media need a union? Is it dangerous work like textile manufacture or coal mining? Can anyone justify this convincingly? Oh, and are there career choices for people who move out of the media that aren't UNION, like the cop shop or the school district? Hello here. Do you want to know where my ire stems from? The O article where teachers weighed in to say they deserve all their benefits that allow them to retire at 55 at 107% of their pay. Unions - I just don't get it about unions.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous education professional said...

Regarding the "ire" expressed by anonymous at 12:42 pm concerning public educators' extravagant retirement benefits; I and the rest of the hardworking and dedicated professionals in public service around the state are tired of getting beaten to a "bloody pulp" all the time about something that resulted from fair and honest labor contract negotiation. Since about 2001 the Oregonian has puposefully and recklessly continued to frame concerns about the costs of the PERS program almost exclusively with teachers and other retired educators as examples of the supposed "largesse" the program affords beneficiaries.

How come the "O" never does a human interest story concerning PERS retirees focusing on a policeman/policewoman or firefighter who retired at 51 or 52 who is earning more as a retiree than when they were employed full time? I think it's because their argument wouldn't resonate with the readership as much as it does every time they describe a retired educator living a comfortable retirement in their mid fifties someplace nice like Sun City, AZ. It's a lot harder to begrudge a firefighter or policeman/policewoman their retirement benefits, especially if they were shot, injured, or disabled as a result of their public service. With educators you can frame the story as if they're receiving these humongous retirement packages, and also count on the underlying resentment among many in the community toward educators' other "perks," i.e. all the extended time off at the holidays, spring break, and of course everyone's favorite, summer vacation.

I've got news for a lot of you. Though it may seem that we're somehow "getting over" on the public(taxpayers) because it appears we're being paid not to work during certain times of the year, the reality is that educators are NOT PAID FOR DAYS WE DON'T WORK, i.e. vacation periods that are planned into academic calendars. Educators' contracts pay us only for days that we work, so the widely held misconception that all of us are gallivanting around during the summer on an all expense paid vacation is another detail of public service that is not very well understood or clarified by those of you in the media who so frequently return to the contentiousness attached to people's feelings about the PERS issue to jazz things up whenever it's a slow "newsday."

Most public educators are paid over twelve months, but we are being paid for the actual days that we are contracted to work, not days that are excluded from the contract like, spring break, holiday vacation in December or summer vacation. Another little known detail concerning public educators is that because we are contracted employees, we are not eligible to file for unemployment benefits when we are "out of work" e.g. the summertime. I'm not mentioning that because I'm bitter about not being eligible to file for unemployment, but to illustrate the unique agreements public educators enter into when they contract to work at public schools in Oregon.

As far as addressing the question about the need for unions, or the hinted at difficulties their participation in Oregon's economy causes, I don't know where to begin, but I'll try to share what I know of the situation and how we've arrived at what many people feel is a calamitous point. I am the third generation of my family to enter public education. In Oregon, way back in the early 80's the economy was far worse than it has been the last 3 or 4 years. Mortgage interest rates were around 14 or 15%, the unemployment rate was 11 or 12%, the timber industry, which was one of the key components of the state economy completely imploded.

During this period, state government actually worked, and the governor and legislature worked together to solve problems for the people of Oregon. One of the settlements that arose during this period occurred when the governor, Victor Atieyeh asked the Oregon Education Association(state teachers' union) to support his efforts to get the economy turned around. The critical agreements that he made with the OEA, and that were honored by local school districts statewide involved asking the teachers' union to forgo requests for pay raises during contract negotiations in exchange for a change in the way retirement benefit contributions were made to teachers' retirement accounts. Prior to agreeing to this change, teachers were responsible for paying their portion of their retirement contribution to PERS. Atieyeh offered that the state of Oregon and individual school districts would begin paying the PERS employee contribution for public educators, if local contract bargaining teams would forgo asking for annual pay raises when it came time to renegotiate contracts for licensed personnel. This agreement enabled state resources to be redirected toward activities and systems that could get the economy reignited and thus create more opportunities for expansion and growth leading to the creation of jobs and a reduction in the number of Oregonians who were unemployed or underemployed.

I'm not certain if all the details I've described are completely accurate or actually happened as I have reported, but I do know that members of the OEA made many significant sacrifices and contributions during those lean years so that the best interests of the state could be front and center. The example I cite is intended to show that the OEA and its' membership was an important and valuable player in the effort that led to economic recovery for the state of Oregon from the recession of the early 80's.

I could go on, but I fear the minutiae of the points I'm trying to make would begin to make people's heads hurt. Mine is already starting to throb. Also, I am not an authority on the specific details or events of that period, since I was only in junior high schol at the time, but think I know just enough to sound as if I know what I'm talking about.

I think the situation I described is an example of the historical perspective and detail that doesn't really get looked into in the way it should when issues such as the apparent extravagance of PERS retirees' retirement benefits are reported in the media.

I know I'll get slammed for the, "jazz things up when it's a slow newsday", remark, but I'm not changing it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 2:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second the first comment about the challenges of being a PIO. Walk a mile in our shoes. You'll have a lot more appreciation for the demands of our jobs you probably never see or imagine.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 2:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

re: How come the "O" never does a human interest story concerning PERS retirees focusing on a policeman/policewoman or firefighter who retired at 51 or 52 who is earning more as a retiree than when they were employed full time?

Seems to me the "O" blew the top off the PDX police/fire disability-retirement fund abuse about three weeks ago...naming names and printing pictures of "disabled" police and firemen in other jobs while still on the public dole...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 3:45:00 PM  
Anonymous education professional said...

Was out of town the last two weeks of June and first week of July, so sounds like I missed the big expose on the slacking police officers and firefighters.

Would like to point out that Portland Police and Firefighters do not participate in PERS retirement plan. Friends of mine who work for PPB tell me their city funded plan is much more generous than PERS.

Can anyone think of a retired, non-city of Portland public safety officer receiving PERS benefits the "O" has investigated and reported on? I don't think there's been a report in the "O" on any state retiree who fits that description. Probably because most retired public safety officers, having read such accounts and witnessed the vitriolic reactions these kind of reports inspire in the public, are too smart to talk to anyone in the media. Wish some of my bretheren who have retired from public education would take a page from their book and clam up too!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 4:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This isn't a slow-news-day thing...it's something that hasn't been covered nearly enough. These incredible full-pay pensions being taken in the prime of life take a hugely significant bite out of something all of us (well, ok, not the Lars faction) truly care about...namely, public education. The fact that you (education professional) wish your retired brethren would "clam up" is proof that we in the media need to shine a brighter light on what's happening here. And comparing this gravy train to the police/fire pensions doesn't cut a lot of mustard...that's a sweetheart deal at taxpayer expense as well, and good for the O for exposing both.

People in the private sector have no prayer of retiring at anywhere close to their working-year earnings. And now Bush wants to cut Social Security (parse it as you will) to pay for his wars. Sounds like more of us should have stayed in school--and not as students.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 4:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

Re: the Oregonian Story on Teacher Retirement

"These incredible full-pay pensions being taken in the prime of life take a hugely significant bite out of something all of us"

Okay, but keep in mind that new teachers do not receive those same benefits. The teachers pictured were part of the old system that does not exist anymore. That's a part of the story the O didn't emphasize enough, although it was mentioned.

Also, the story made it appear that there are ways to take away benefits for the "older teachers," when, in fact, so far the courts have held that a contract is a contract. So, frankly, I grappled to find the point of the O story.

As one here poster said, teachers have made sacrifices in pay which resulted in the retirement benefits that used to exist. It's also true, as another poster said, that some people are frustrated with public employee benefits. But it is equally true that changes have been made and so far the courts have been clear that we cannot break the contract with the teachers who bargained in good faith. So what, exactly, was the public service of this story?

I would be less confused if it was an analysis of the court rulings, or an analysis of the new PERS benefits. But this story seemed like a repeat of old news that leaves the public with an incorrect impression that the problem hasn't been dealth with at all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 5:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do media people need unions? Is it dangerous work?
Nah, standing in the smoke of a industrial fire telling people to stay inside, not knowing what you're breathing...working and driving in icestorm conditions so that everyone at home can be entertained while they are home, being shot at(yesthat's happened locally) being attacked, yelled at, harrassed by wackos, etc, working 18 hour days and then driving, well, yeah I think there is some danger.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 7:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Joe Inkwell said...

You can't judge teachers' employment based on how many months they work or the fact that they have summers off, etc. etc. etc.

The only criteria is how many hours they work per year. The benchmark should be 1,960 hours, based on a common standard 49 workweeks and a total of 3 weeks of paid vacation (including holidays).

I know many teachers (although not working in the school system myself) and I would bet all exceed that number of hours within the nine months of the school year, arriving at school well before the students do and going home long after, plus evenings and weekends. We're talking 60-70 hour work weeks during the school year. So this business about how they only have to work nine months out of the year -- as though they're working 9-to-5 -- is a pile. It's more like 7-to-6, plus some nights and many weekends.

Secondly, one cannot blame teachers for taking advantage of a retirement system that the state agreed to fund. Anyone in that position would do the same, including the folks squawking about it who apparently wish they'd gotten into a different line of work.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 8:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Lise Harwin said...

Reporters really only see a small part of what many of us do as PIOs. They see the news releases and the "escorting," but that may be about it.

Often, we're also responsible for internal and external newsletters, some of which come out multiple times each month and can be lengthy. Or other large-scale employee communication projects. Or annual reports or events or advertising copy or websites or brochures or videos.

I know being a PIO isn't the same as being a reporter, but it's not as close to retirement as it may seem!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 8:54:00 PM  
Anonymous education professional said...

Regarding the comments posted at 4:59 pm by anonymous concerning the perceived "underreporting" by PDX news media of the factors and significant issues that contributed to PERS evolution into the greatest pension system in the history of world civilization(according to most everyone who's not on the gravy train with me and the rest of my fellow public educators), I believe it only fair to make one point about the manner in which the topic has consistently(at least to me) been described and presented by news media to the readership/broadcast viewing audience.

IF we are to agree that the issues surrounding PERS remain underreported, but have been accurately and fairly presented in all stories published to date in the Oregonian, then I think that's about the same as asking everyone to agree that the Dan Rather story about President Bush's National Guard service in Texas during the Vietnam War that aired on
"60 Minutes" less than a month before the 2004 election was completely impartial and factually accurate too. In both of the situations I've cited for comparison, the bias has been so slanted in one direction it's laughable. I find it hard to believe that Dan Rather or the "O's" team of journalists who have been covering the ongoing PERS developments for the last few years could tell an informed and knowledgeable audience that the reporting was impartial and balanced without smirking, it clearly was not.

In my original comments earlier today I attempted to describe the way the coverage of these issues has usualy been framed, especially as reported in the Oregonian. The PERS debate needs balanced and in depth coverage from all sides(360 degrees), what the Oregonian has given us has been about 45 degrees worth, all favoring their contentions that the whole system is rigged, and that public employees(especially us dishonest and greedy educators) are somehow benefitting in ways they should not be.

The way the issues have been reported, especially with all the accompanying stories of retired teachers living it up in exotic, far flung locales, I can see why people whose entire knowledge of the situation has come from the Oregonian's biased and unbalanced point of view would be outraged about what's happening. It appears that local school districts and state goverment have been completely fleeced by the teachers' union and other unions representing public service workers in Oregon. They're not telling you the whole story.

That's why educators, and to a lesser extent other state government employees are so steamed up about this issue. We don't have a way to respond in kind to the ideas, innuendo and suppositions underlying the Oregonian's coverage of the debate. The Oregonian is literally blugeoning teachers and public employees over the head with a sledgehammer each time they print another unbalanced description of anything associated with or impacting upon the PERS discussion. Their difficulties acurately depicting and reporting all the relevant issues and details impacting upon the PERS discussion are exacerbated further whenever one of the local broadcast outlets decides to follow up on one of the "O's" stories, resulting in an even wider dispersal of a story grounded in facts and arguments that often do not reflect the full range of factors and issues impacting upon the situation being reported. How does one effectively counter arguments that reach millions of influential eyeballs around the state everyday?

The answer is you don't, you just get to keep on being the punching bag for journalists who work for a newspaper with an unstated unpublished agenda; namely blame the problems with the PERS pension system on those who had the least to do with its' present configuration but benefit from it anyway.

Is everyone familiar with the three blind men and the elephant? That's essentially what we have going on with the reporting about the PERS debate. For those who don't know the story it goes like this.

Three blind men were asked to describe an elephant. One man grabbed hold of the elephant's trunk and explained that an elephant was long and flexible like a serpent.

Another blind man encountered the side of the elephant. He was unable to reach over the elephant's back to determine how tall it was, but he was able to place his hand under the elepant's belly. He described the elephant is being a very tall, stout and sturdy creature and couldn't understand how the first man could believe the elephant was in any way at all like a serpent.

The last blind man grabbed hold of the elephant's hind leg. It was stout and strong. He explained to the others that the elephant was a short creature built low to the ground, and was baffled by the descriptions reported by the other two men.

Who was right? Each man reported an accurate description of the elephant based on his limited exposure to the animal, but none was able to provide a detailed account that fully elaborated about the varying elements that make up the magnificent creature we all know as the elephant.

The same kind of reporting is occuring in the Oregonian whenever they print anything connected to the ongoing issues and discussion concerning PERS.

If it appeared that what is reported in the Oregonian about PERS was a fair and accurate representation of the issues at hand and the ways they developed and are likely to play out no one would have any heartache with the Oregonian, but they continue to engage in a very biased and unbalanced method of researching and reporting the issues, but behave as if the ways they report the issues and the story are unbiased and fair to all.

That's what really frosts people, not the slanted reporting(well maybe more than I'm letting on) but their insistence that their coverage of the issues is unbiased. When you combine that behavior with the "holier than thou" attitude that infests the reporting and general vibe the Oregonian conveys to many of its' readers, it's not surprising to me that they're struggling to compete with WW for major stories and breaking news.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 9:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, teacher, we all heard the elephant story in second grade. The sequel is that another guy then grabbed the elephant by the balls...because that's exactly where the teachers-of-yesteryear have the taxpayers. Like Rebecca said, the courts have decreed that a contract is a contract. End of story. Nice back-door deal, Gov. Atiyeh. Democrats are not the only ones in the OEA's pocket.

Why is it news today? Because taxpayers are getting screwed today...schools are getting screwed today..and there is not a damn thing that can be done about it today. So while the legislature hassles over a laughably minimal level of funding--today--the Oregonian's photo of grinning 54-year olds drinking Mai Tai's in Sun City on the taxpayer's dime says it all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 9:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Gal said...

My original question was this: Why do people in the media need a union? Can someone respond with a convincing rationale?
Joe Inkwell guesses that teachers work 60-70 hour weeks during the school year. Instead of 8-to-5 (that's "40 hours" at my job) they work 6-to-5. No way, I don't believe it. Got some data on that?
Here's the deal on the education system in Oregon: parents are fed up with the continued calls for more money, and the lack of change in their childrens' classroom. It's not just meanie Republicans griping about taxes. It's parents who see that more money isn't making a difference in their child's education. Teachers, talk some sense to your union reps or be prepared for more scorn directed your way.
Re PERS: Now there are three types of people: defensive (hired before 2003), cranky and jealous (hired after 2003) and the rest of us.
Education Professional devoted some time to the issue of work days and vacations and frankly I couldn't follow the point. Do I begrudge teachers their summer vacation? I might be a little jealous yes, but on the other hand, at my job I'm not captive with 12 year olds (!) and I can take a long lunch when I like. Do teachers in other states file for unemployment in the summer? I don't understand this as a teacher has not lost his job. Weird. Like, if I went on maternity leave for 3 months, should I be able to file for unemployment?

Thursday, July 14, 2005 6:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

Anonymous, let me be clear about my statement regarding the courts saying we have to keep our promise to teachers: I do not think that is a bad thing. The teachers bargained in good faith and took less pay for more benefits. It seems to me it would be grossly unfair to punish them for it now. PERS has been adjusted for current and future hires.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 6:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Union Member said...

Journalists need a union for the same reason anyone needs a union: because there is strength in numbers and the best way to get the most fair pay, benefits and working conditions is to join together and bargain as a group. It's not only low-skilled or low-wage workers whose jobs are made better because of unions. When there is an unbalance of power in the workplace, unions help to balance it.

Using the same principal, unions allow people to have political. Whether it's pushing for a federal shield law for reporters, as the Newspaper Guild-CWA is doing now, or defending the minimum wage, this is a good thing.

Everyone has an anecdote for how a specific union did something wrong...in the same way everyone has a favorite anecdote about some bonehead move by a reporter. But neither represents the whole. Union members have better wages, better beneftis, better working hours, and more voice in the workplace. Not only that, but in communities with higher union density, wages are higher for all workers, union and non.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 7:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Gal said...

Huh. Journalists need a union because everyone needs a union. I was hoping for better than this. I was thinking that maybe it had something to do with businesses involved in endeavors for the good of the public... like the state government, like the media. Honestly that's just a guess on my part.
Do I need to point out that union membership is at an all time low?

I just don't get unions. Wouldn't you rather get a pay raise that you asked for because you excelled at your job instead of a contractually obligated raise that you can't affect in any way?

Thursday, July 14, 2005 7:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unions exist because management's only goal is the bottom line, at the expense of its workers. Unions are the only way to fight them, in a collective way. It's a simple fact, that if you present the powers that be with powers of your own, as a group, you will get a litte more of what you deserve.
Unions are the only way to protect against management abuses UNDER a union contract...this includes health care decisions and firings. Where do you go if management makes an unfair decision about your life? Nowhere if you don't have union protection, that's where.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 7:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"management's only goal is the bottom line:" pretty true of most businesses. The goal is to make money in the endeavor. Part of the way a company makes money is keeping employees. Hiring and training new staff costs money.

"Unions are the only way are the only way to fight them": Are you engaged in a job? Or a battle? I prefer a job.

"Where do you go if management makes an unfair decision about your life?" Snort. I hold my tongue, or diplomatically suggest alternatives, or vote with my feet. My boss makes unfair decisions about my life all the time. But on the whole, it's a job I prefer more than others.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 8:02:00 AM  
Anonymous education professional said...

At 6:41 am gal doubted Joe Inkwell's assertion(7/13 8:04 pm) that teachers work somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 70 hours a week. I can assure everyone that Joe Inkwell isn't far off in his guesstimation regarding the hours teachers are devoting to their students.

In the spirit of honest communication, I feel it important to disclose that I am not a teacher, but used to be. Nor am I an administrator. I work closely with teachers and administrators at a public high school every day.

In response to the misunderstanding about contracts and teacher ineligibility for unemployment benefits during the summers I'll just say this. Teachers and other education professionals work on contracts, summer months are not considered part of the contract. Technically a teacher or other education professional could be considered "unemployed" because they are not under contract for the summer. So, teachers do in a way, "lose their jobs" during the summer. Thus the need to disqualify anyone working on a teacher contract from eligibility for unemployment benefits.

I believe there are some states where teachers are eligible for unemployment benefits during the summer months, although I can't think of one to offer as an example.

Imagine if teachers and other education professionals were not ineligible for unemployment benefits during the summer. School employees would file for and receive unemployment benefits during the summer months when they are "unemployed", while at the same time continuing to receive their full salaries and benefits from school district employers because most of us draw our salaries over twelve months not nine. Would that be fair?

The prohibition against teachers being eligible for unemloyment benefits exists to protect and safeguard the public's interest.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 8:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Gal said...

Education professional, thank you for continuing to correspond at length on the glaringly obvious. "Techically" or not, it would not be fair for teachers to apply for unemployment in the summer. Thank heavens teachers are in agreement on this issue of protecting and safeguarding the public's interest.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 8:39:00 AM  
Anonymous beardo said...

Someone long ago said, "The only people that run towards danger are cops, firefighters and reporters."

In my career, like many reporters, I dodged bullets, fists, flames and assorted curses.

So now I'm a PIO. Not as exciting. But still dangerous.

Maybe PIO-types need a union!

Thursday, July 14, 2005 9:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Darnell Valentine said...

Gal -

Please calm down, take a breath...pause...begin...

You will probably always be against unionization and others will be for it (gasp!). But, one thing that we should never accept is that they have no purpose. Its a freedom protected by law for god's sake - when have we ever debated the neccessity of freedoms before?

Its like asking - "do we really need private property rights anymore? there was a time and a place but, why don't we get rid of them the government or big land owners will take care of us if we just ask them to."

"Do journalists really need the freedom of the press any more? Back under the monarchy it was a problem but, no the government would never punish someone for saying something in print."

"If I just work hard enough I will get my information - we don't really need a FOIA, it'll all work out if I am good enough."

"Do defendant need the right to counsel. Judges used to be more arbitrary but, today their good people. If you just work hard enough and ask them to find you innocent it'll all work out."

Just a thought...

Thursday, July 14, 2005 10:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Gal said...

Oh goodness. Sigh. OK, let me ask for the 3rd time:

Why do people who work in the media need a union? Is it because you run towards the fire and skid on ice in Troutdale? Is that all it amounts to?

Thursday, July 14, 2005 11:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how a question about a union grievance at KGW degenerated into an argument about the media's coverage of PERS, but I'll jump on.

To Education Professional: no one disputes that teachers work hard, even if they get summers off. They have a hard job (especially those who take on middle school students on a daily basis). I haven't paid sufficient attention to ALL the media coverage of PERS, but I'll take you at your word that the media has slanted it against teachers. Also, we understand that the teachers' contracts should be honored -- we don't like it, because it's bankrupting the state, but we understand.

That said, I get annoyed by claims that teachers "took lower pay" in order to get better benefits. To wit:
The average annual pay in Oregon in 2001 was $33,203.
source: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/annpay.t01.htm

The average salary for teachers in Oregon in 2001-2002 was $43,886.
source: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Education/Schools/oregon.cfm

That tells me that teachers make roughly $10,000 more per year than the average worker in Oregon, and that average worker probably has little or no retirement fund. So please, please, PLEASE get off the "we poor teachers are overworked and underpaid" crap. You are clearly NOT underpaid.

You wrote:
"Victor Atieyeh asked the Oregon Education Association(state teachers' union) to support his efforts to get the economy turned around. The critical agreements that he made with the OEA, and that were honored by local school districts statewide involved asking the teachers' union to forgo requests for pay raises during contract negotiations in exchange for a change in the way retirement benefit contributions were made to teachers' retirement accounts. Prior to agreeing to this change, teachers were responsible for paying their portion of their retirement contribution to PERS. Atieyeh offered that the state of Oregon and individual school districts would begin paying the PERS employee contribution for public educators, if local contract bargaining teams would forgo asking for annual pay raises when it came time to renegotiate contracts for licensed personnel."

You continue, "Members of the OEA made many significant sacrifices and contributions during those lean years so that the best interests of the state could be front and center. The example I cite is intended to show that the OEA and its' membership was an important and valuable player in the effort that led to economic recovery for the state of Oregon from the recession of the early 80's."

It sounds like the teachers' union was causing challenges by asking for endless pay raises, so Atiyeh offered PERS in exchange for stopping that practice. That was 25 years ago! My responses: 1) the current focus on teachers is merited, because the teachers started the whole thing; 2) the teachers clearly stopped honoring that agreement to be a "team player," and in fact have abused it, for a long time; 3) Lots of people suffered during the recession -- why are teachers special?

Maybe if you want to be a "team player," you'll make a similar sacrifice that you claim to have made in the 80s -- you'll admit that PERS is killing the state (not to mention any funding increases you want for education), and you'll find a way for public employees to give up a little so the state can gain a lot.

But then again, the unions will never let you do that, because they have no interest in what's best for the state, only what best for their dues-paying members.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 12:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does anyone "need" a union? Because there are some people in management/ownership who will take advantage of employees if there's not a united front to enforce fairness.

Now whether unions are fair is another question...

Thursday, July 14, 2005 12:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The media people who are drawn to unions are reacting to the way they're treated by managment. Management treats people the way they do because of pressure to keep costs down, particularly payroll.

Never been in a union and don't think I ever will, but it's easy to see how a group of battered photographers, reporters, truck operators and techs would be.

It's a wonder they ever answer their phones when they're not at work. Who wants to hear from the assignment desk on a well-earned day with the family? I've been on the bad-guy side of that conversation... it's not fun for anyone.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 4:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Going union is usually a matter of, as HST would put it, fear and loathing. It's a pie in the face to management, a reflexive reaction to insecurity and mistreatment. My long experience in AFTRA and IBEW is that broadcast unionization results in hard-fought nickle-and-dime raises, and lots and lots of rules. I've never looked back and said, ahh, that was definitely worth the trouble. But it always felt good at the time.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 4:46:00 PM  
Anonymous education professional said...

At 12:28 pm, anonymous pointed out that Oregon teachers in 2001-02, earned about 10K a year more than average workers, and that said average workers most likely have little or no retirement fund.

So I guess the point that should be taken from that, is that educators should be as equally underpaid and stressed out as everyone else working for an employer that doesn't have any form of retirement program.

I didn't enter the profession to get rich and retire early. I did, and still do have a genuine wish to dedicate my life toward something that really matters.

Having said that, I will return to the point contributed by anonymous(using quantitative data to support his position) and suggest that maybe one of the reasons educators earned an average of 10K more a year than other workers in Oregon in 2001-02 is because most teachers and other education professionals are highly educated. Most teachers and other education professionals are required to earn Masters degrees in order to meet minimum licensure requirements. How many other professions besides medicine and law require practitioners to achieve masters degree levels of education in order to practice? I bet if you tweaked the criteria for the statistic and compared teachers' annual incomes to those of other similarly educated professionals you'd find that teachers are easily the lowest paid by a very wide margin among that group.

Using myself as an example, I hold a masters degree and speak a second language fluently(Spanish).

And as for the supposed sacrifice I made in the 80's, that wasn't me. I was only 14 then.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 6:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am really tired of educators and their whining. Nurses and social workers have just as stressful jobs, work alot more hours than teachers (anyone saying a teacher works 60-70 hours every week is just lying! And, they are paid for 190 days and are in the classroom 163 days) and have to have continued education as well. Also, most of them get tuition reimbursement to get their master degrees and time off to take the classes. All other professons (yes many need master degrees) have to figure out how to pay for it and take night and weekend classes around work weeks. Also, they don't even have to be good teachers to get a raise every year. And not just one raise but two raises, one for just being in the classroom and another for taking classes that they get reimbursement for. The biggest problem is the union doesn't care about the students, the teachers do but they don't ever stand up to their union. They don't ever ask the big salaries the uniserves are making. Evaluations are just a joke. Try firing a bad teacher and trust me there are plenty. And parents are helpless because of the retribution and yes Virginia there is retribution to the children. Teachers want to be treated like professionals but don't want to accept the responsibility of professionals.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 7:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If teachers and the legislature were truly interested in educating children, their union would not be fighting my voucher. Why not save $4,000 a year and just send all the kids to private high schools - oh wait, the union wouldn't make money and the legislatures would get their donations. Kids first, show me my voucher!

Thursday, July 14, 2005 7:50:00 PM  
Anonymous education professional said...

I guess I hit a nerve.

It appears that everyone has grown weary of the back and forth, so I'm not responding with anything more on this topic.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 10:09:00 PM  
Blogger lisaloving said...

Anonymouse with the vouchers: Give me a list of all the private schools that only charge $4,000. Do you have a clue about how much these schools cost? Bump it up to $7,000, and THEN you'll be able to pick and choose.

Just for funzies, go ahead and check craigslist.com and find out who's being recruited to teach at these charter schools --- the operative phrases being "no teaching experience required" and "$13.50 an hour." See it for yourself.

Gal: Just as soon as you get a job, start to get groped by your boss, get threatened with firing for saying no (of course that's never the official reason); or maybe get pregnant, then find yourself laid off when you notify the office of your desire for maternity leave......then you'll suddenly understand why media, or anyone else, might wish they had a union behind them. (On a personal note, when my son had open heart surgery a few years ago, I only got ONE DAY OFF....and yes, unions were specifically discouraged in our office manual.)

BTW, also, Gal, labor unions have been known to provide services to members -- even out of work members -- like affordable health insurance (no, honey, your corporation does not volunteer this out of the kindness of their hearts), job leads, even after work softball teams. Not to mention coming to bat for workers denied family leave and flex time, emergency leave, and even workers dangling at the mercy of psycho bosses. Yes, baby Gal, psycho bosses.

On the other hand, Gal, honey, you could allow yourself to believe that bad things only ever happen to bad people, because your boss would never do something like that. Believe it if you want to.

Friday, July 15, 2005 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Lisaloving - I think what anonymous meant was that since public schools spend about $11,000 a year per student according to The Oregonian, sending a kid to a private school at $7,000 would be $4,000 cheaper.

Friday, July 15, 2005 11:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The real number from the cascade policy institute is $13,000 with $9,000 in general fund money. Educate your kids - 2 for 1 deal with vouchers?

Friday, July 15, 2005 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Darnell Valentine said...

Gal -

Ugh - I think what you don't seem to understand is that people "need a union" for their own reasons, you can't expect a perfect example from a blog. So, unless you are currently involved in a discussion at work - this is a waste of time.

The point I tried to make is that it is something we as Americans are free to do. Let the employees decide if they want to form a union, decide on their contract standards and decide democratically how they will operate.

So - really what may be important to know is...do you want/need a union?

Friday, July 15, 2005 1:09:00 PM  
Anonymous GAL said...

Oh my. Ms Loving is a wee cranky, which puts her it the hired-after-2003 PERS category. Hoowee! Truly, I just wanted to know why people in the MEDIA need a union. I now realize that this media blog, which aims to inform "management" is not the best place to ask, and in fact the posters have sounded like not-media people. OK, fair enough. I will ask somewhere else.

ps to the very presumptive Ms Loving, I am 40, have not been groped by any bosses (I am a degreed professional like those employed in media and teaching, by the way, and groping is perhaps less prevalent than you might think). It's a pretty good job, and better than many, and that's why I'm here. I'm not threatened with job loss for saying no. I try to say no not often, because I like it here. Now, are people in the MEDIA regularly threatened with job loss for saying no? I know, they won't answer. But I'm sure some bitter head cases will pipe up in their stead! Let's see, what else... oh yes, 3 kids - preschoolers (god I'm tired) and I still had a job when I came back! My company is tiny. They don't have to give family leave, but they do. They pay half the substantial insurance bill for my family of 5 and I pay the rest. They don't have to, but they do because it helps retain employees. Why do they want to retain employees? Not out of the goodness of their hearts, but because my brain makes money for them, basically, and other brains would make them less money.

Friday, July 15, 2005 8:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Who needs a union?"

Dr. Kenneth Lay
Former CEO, Enron
World's 8th Biggest Company
(until the union haters STOLE EVERYTHING!)

Monday, July 18, 2005 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If teaching is so so easy, why do HALF of all new teachers quit in the first five years?

Real men teach, the rest sit in their smelly little cubicles, playing Solitaire, hoping the boss isn't coming!

Monday, July 18, 2005 10:51:00 AM  
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Friday, October 07, 2005 8:27:00 PM  
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Wednesday, December 14, 2005 4:37:00 PM  
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