Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!

February 17, 2011

Everything about this story in the NY Daily News is almost too funny to be true.  According to the article, Paul Egan, the political and legislative director for the United Federation of Teachers in NY, along with two dozen other union folks were escorted by police from a “posh” Albany restaurant after a dispute about the size of the portions.

Paul Egan, pictured above, “set off the fracas – claiming the quail he was served, and finished, wasn’t large enough – sources said.”

The NY Daily News continues:

Egan began shouting and demanded to see the manager. The restaurant’s owner soon appeared, and pleaded with Egan to calm down, sources said. When he didn’t, restaurant staffers called the cops. Two officers were dispatched to handle a man who was “yelling and refusing to leave,” Albany Detective James Miller said. “There was a dispute over the bill,” Miller said. “They were refusing to pay.” Miller said members of the party-hearty crew identified themselves to cops as union reps, and he noted Egan “was pretty irate and agitated.”

To hustle the scene-makers out of the dining room, restaurant managers reduced the bill for the group’s prix fixe dinners, Miller said. Officers told Egan the dispute was a civil matter and ordered him to pay the bill – to which he followed up by asking if he was required to leave a tip, sources said. “It was explained he needed to pay the bill and leave because he and the group were causing a disturbance,” Miller said. With the tab finally tallied, cops told the union honchos to hit the road.

OK.  Let’s slow down and go over this bit by bit.  A bunch of union fat cats were dining in a fancy restaurant near the capitol because I guess that’s how you can best represent the working person.

One of them who, let’s be honest, could stand a few reduced-sized portions threw a fit when he wasn’t given enough food.  Blowing a fuse to demand more and more, regardless of whether it is needed, is the defining characteristic of a union boss.  So, that makes sense.

Even after the manager reduces the bill, the UFT political and legislative director still wants to stiff the wait-staff by leaving no tip because, again, the union is all about helping your fellow worker.

And if all of this wasn’t hysterical enough, the Daily News adds:

A source with ties to the union said it’s not the first time Egan has been kicked out of a restaurant after making a scene. “He’s done this more than once, though he never got escorted out by the police before that I know of,” the source said. The source recounted Egan loudly complaining during a Christmas-time lunch that he didn’t get enough meatloaf and mashed potatoes. In the end, Egan was bounced from the city eatery but not before the owner tore up his check, the source said.

I love it.  This is actually a routine.  Perhaps this is something he learned from his work.  Raise a big stink and you can get free stuff.

Where else have I seen this kind of behavior.  Oh yeah, I remember:


Teacher Unions Will Do Absolutely Anything to Win

July 28, 2010

If you don’t believe me check out this political ad from Alabama.  Robert Byrne was in a Republican primary contest for governor of Alabama, but the teachers unions didn’t want him to win.  So they “gave $1.5 million to 10 PACs, which in turn gave nearly $1 million to True Republican PAC. Joe Cottle, a lobbyist for the teachers’ group, is the treasurer of five of the PACs, and Rudy Davidson, a former education lobbyist and a contributor to A VOTE, was treasurer of four others.”

Fueled with laundered teacher union money, “True Republican PAC” ran the following ad accusing Robert Byrne of believing in evolution and doubting that every word of the Bible was true:

The Alabama Education Association, the local affiliate of the NEA, admitted to funneling this money to True Republican PAC despite the fact that the NEA has repeatedly declared its support for the teaching of evolution.

Truth, consistency, educational excellence, honesty, the well-being of children — none of this matters to the teacher unions.  The only thing that matters is winning so that they can extract as much money from the public as possible.

The teacher union-funded ad has attracted some funny parodies.  Bill Maher fails to correctly describe the origin of the ad, but has this howler:

And as long as we are making fun of incredibly ignorant and embarrassing political ads from Alabama, which makes me feel less bad about the incredibly ignorant and embarrassing ads in Arkansas, check out this one by another gubernatorial candidates, Tim James:

And now check out this parody:

Oh.  And in case you were worried, the teacher union-backed candidate for the Republican nomination was the one who won.  Gives you confidence in democracy.

(Update:  I can’t find the original Tim James ad without the editorial comments inserted, but this gives a a good idea of what the original ad looked like.]


The New Crisis: Teacher Obesity

May 29, 2008

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Check out Michael Petrilli’s great article in the new Gadfly. If major media outlets are going to act like the sky is falling because of student obesity, why is nobody worried about teacher obesity – which imposes much more direct costs on the school system than student obesity?

Health insurance costs associated with treating overweight teachers and other school staff are taking a major bite out of public education budgets. I estimate that these costs come to at least $2.5 billion annually–more than Maine spends on its entire k-12 system in a year.

This calculation assumes that the obesity rate among people who work in k-12 education is the same as that for the population as a whole: about one-third of all adults. (I can’t think of any reason why it would be lower–and if you’ve been to many educator gatherings lately, you wouldn’t think so, either.)

Why is teacher obesity so expensive? Petrilli blames gold-plated health benefits thanks to “over-generous collective bargain agreements.”

It’s hard to tell just how far into his cheek Petrilli’s tongue is planted here, but the article’s worth a read.


More on Proximity and Power

April 22, 2008

 

Some folks wanted to see more data on my earlier post, Proximity and Power.  In that post I described how Jonathan Butcher and I have actually measured the distance between interest group state headquarters and state capitol buildings.  Our argument is that interest groups want to inflate the perception of their power  by having offices that are very close to the capitol. 

The groups that we normally think are the most powerful are, in fact, the ones regularly closest to the state capitol.  The teacher union excels at proximity, followed by the Trial Lawyers, AARP, and AFL-CIO.  I’m somehow reminded of the MOD Squad in the movie Thank You for Smoking.

I’ve reproduced the results for those four organizations below for each state. The rank is among the 25 most powerful interest groups as identified by Fortune Magazine.  The teacher union is a prince among princes.

  Distance from Capitol (miles) Rank
  AL  
AARP

0.3

5

AFL-CIO

0.6

11

NEA/AFT

0.1

2

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.5

7

  AK  
AARP

Different City

NA

AFL-CIO

0.6

4

NEA/AFT

0.3

2

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

Different City

NA

  AZ  
AARP

1.5

2

AFL-CIO

6.9

16

NEA/AFT

3.2

11

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

8.5

19

  AR  
AARP

7.1

17

AFL-CIO

0.7

9

NEA/AFT

0.1

1

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.4

2

  CA  
AARP

0.5

4

AFL-CIO

0.2

1

NEA/AFT

0.2

2

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.6

6

  CO  
AARP

0.4

2

AFL-CIO

5.3

14

NEA/AFT

0.3

1

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.4

2

  CT  
AARP

0.3

1

AFL-CIO

7.6

15

NEA/AFT

0.3

1

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.5

4

  DE  
AARP

Different City

NA

AFL-CIO

1.0

6

NEA/AFT

0.1

1

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

Different City

NA

  FL  
AARP

0.3

6

AFL-CIO

0.2

3

NEA/AFT

0.3

6

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.1

1

  GA  
AARP

2.5

10

AFL-CIO

0.6

2

NEA/AFT

9.0

14

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.6

2

  HI  
AARP

0.3

2

AFL-CIO

1.4

9

NEA/AFT

2.6

15

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.4

4

  ID  
AARP

9.2

14

AFL-CIO

0.8

9

NEA/AFT

0.1

1

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.8

9

  IL  
AARP

1.1

13

AFL-CIO

0.1

1

NEA/AFT

0.1

3

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.4

9

  IN  
AARP

0.1

3

AFL-CIO

2.8

14

NEA/AFT

0.1

1

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.1

2

  IA  
AARP

0.4

1

AFL-CIO

1.6

7

NEA/AFT

1.3

6

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

1.2

4

  KS  
AARP

0.4

5

AFL-CIO

4.2

12

NEA/AFT

0.7

8

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.3

3

  KY  
AARP

Different City

NA

AFL-CIO

3.8

3

NEA/AFT

1.3

2

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

Different City

NA

  LA  
AARP

0.5

1

AFL-CIO

1.3

5

NEA/AFT

5.8

11

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

1.2

4

  ME  
AARP

Different City

NA

AFL-CIO

5.1

11

NEA/AFT

0.9

4

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.5

2

  MD  
AARP

Different City

NA

AFL-CIO

0.0

1

NEA/AFT

0.3

2

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

Different City

NA

  MA  
AARP

5.7

13

AFL-CIO

5.4

12

NEA/AFT

0.2

1

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

18.0

16

  MI  
AARP

0.6

6

AFL-CIO

0.4

4

NEA/AFT

0.4

4

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

5.3

11

  MN  
AARP

15.0

19

AFL-CIO

0.7

3

NEA/AFT

0.5

2

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

9.5

16

  MS  
AARP

8.1

14

AFL-CIO

0.3

1

NEA/AFT

0.5

4

AAJ (Trial Lawyers) None NA
  MO  
AARP

Different City

NA

AFL-CIO

0.1

1

NEA/AFT

2.7

10

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.3

3

  MT  
AARP

1.7

11

AFL-CIO

2.4

13

NEA/AFT

0.1

1

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

1.0

6

  NE  
AARP

0.5

4

AFL-CIO

6.3

17

NEA/AFT

0.0

1

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

1.1

10

  NV  
AARP

Different City

NA

AFL-CIO

0.7

2

NEA/AFT

Different City

NA

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.2

1

  NH  
AARP

6.6

15

AFL-CIO

0.2

2

NEA/AFT

0.6

6

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

6.4

13

  NJ  
AARP

15.0

13

AFL-CIO

0.1

4

NEA/AFT

0.5

7

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.0

2

  NM  
AARP

0.5

2

AFL-CIO

Different City

NA

NEA/AFT

2.8

6

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

Different City

NA

  NY  
AARP

2.3

8

AFL-CIO

0.6

4

NEA/AFT

8.1

17

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

Different City

NA

  NC  
AARP

0.2

1

AFL-CIO

1.1

11

NEA/AFT

0.7

7

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

2.4

12

  ND  
AARP

1.6

6

AFL-CIO

1.7

8

NEA/AFT

1.0

1

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

5.9

15

  OH  
AARP

0.1

1

AFL-CIO

0.6

11

NEA/AFT

0.4

8

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.6

11

  OK  
AARP

9.7

17

AFL-CIO

7.5

13

NEA/AFT

0.7

1

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.8

2

  OR  
AARP

Different City

NA

AFL-CIO

0.8

2

NEA/AFT

Different City

NA

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

Different City

NA

  PA  
AARP

0.3

3

AFL-CIO

0.1

2

NEA/AFT

0.1

1

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

Different City

NA

  RI  
AARP

0.5

3

AFL-CIO

0.2

1

NEA/AFT

0.5

3

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

5.1

16

  SC  
AARP

0.0

2

AFL-CIO

5.4

16

NEA/AFT

7.4

18

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

1.1

11

  SD  
AARP

Different City

NA

AFL-CIO

Different City

NA

NEA/AFT

0.1

1

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.4

2

  TN  
AARP

0.5

2

AFL-CIO

2.7

10

NEA/AFT

0.9

4

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

1.6

7

  TX  
AARP

1.1

12

AFL-CIO

0.4

5

NEA/AFT

0.5

7

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.2

1

  UT  
AARP

14.0

14

AFL-CIO

9.7

12

NEA/AFT

10.0

13

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

1.7

3

  VT  
AARP

0.3

2

AFL-CIO

1.1

10

NEA/AFT

1.8

12

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.2

1

  VA  
AARP

0.4

2

AFL-CIO

8.9

15

NEA/AFT

0.7

7

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.4

2

  WA  
AARP

Different City

NA

AFL-CIO

0.4

1

NEA/AFT

1.2

8

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

1.9

9

  WV  
AARP

1.9

6

AFL-CIO

1.9

6

NEA/AFT

0.7

2

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.8

3

  WI  
AARP

0.1

2

AFL-CIO

2.1

10

NEA/AFT

3.7

12

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.4

5

  WY  
AARP

0.4

3

AFL-CIO

0.6

7

NEA/AFT

0.2

1

AAJ (Trial Lawyers)

0.3

2

 

 


Proximity and Power

April 19, 2008

If you stand on the steps of a state capitol building and throw a rock (with a really strong arm), the first building you can hit has a good chance of being the headquarters of the state teacher union.  For interest groups, proximity to the capitol is a way of displaying power and influence.  The teacher union, more than any other interest group, strives to be the closest.  They want to remind everyone that among powerful interest groups, they are the most powerful – a prince among princes.

To see who has the most powerful digs, Jonathan Butcher and I actually bothered to measure just how close interest group offices are to state capitol buildings.  We started with a list of the 25 most influential interest groups, as compiled by Fortune magazine.  We then used Google Maps to plot the location of the state offices of those 25 interest groups and measured the distance to the capitol building. 

The results are illuminating.  Of the 25 most influential interest groups, the teacher union is the closest in 14 of the 50 states.  The labor union, AFL-CIO, is the closest in 7 states.  The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and Nation Federation of Independent Business are the closest in 5 states, each.  The trial lawyers lobby, the American Association for Justice, is the closest in 4 states.

The teacher union is among the four closest interest groups in 27 states.  The trial lawyers are in the top four in 22 states, followed by the AARP in 20 states and the AFL-CIO in 19 states. 

In Nebraska, the teacher union office is only 210 feet from the capitol building.  In Pennsylvania it is only 312 feet away.  In Alabama, Delaware, and South Dakota, the teacher union headquarters is about 500 feet away. 

If we gave four points for being closest, three for being the second closes, two for being third closest, and one for being the fourth closest, teacher unions would have a total of 85 points.  No other group would have more than 60 points.  Only four of the 25 groups would have above 40 points, with the trial lawyers, AARP, and AFL-CIO joining the teacher union in this elite group.  But even among this expense-account dinner crowd, the teacher union is way ahead.

The teacher union doesn’t strive to be the closest because the extra time it takes to walk or drive a few more blocks will make the difference in a pivotal vote.  They strive to be the closest because it is a visible display of their power and influence.  It’s a symbol of the connections and resources they can devote to something as trivial as having the closest office, just like the status obtained from having the best seats at a concert or sporting event.  If they can blow money on that, do you really want to mess with them?

But much of the power of interest groups is little more than bluff.  It is to their advantage to exaggerate their power and influence precisely because doing so enhances the power and influence they actually have.  Yet despite all of the fear and trembling among politicos of the consequences of crossing the teacher union, they can be beaten. 

In fact, it is striking how often the teacher union loses even with all of its resources and displays of power.  In the face of union opposition to structural reforms, there are now 21 voucher or tax credit programs in 13 states sending students to private schools at public expense.  There are more than one million students attending charter schools in the 40 states that have charter programs.  Merit pay for teachers is being tried in New York, Florida, Texas, Nashville, and several new districts under a federal pilot program. 

The teacher union doesn’t want people to think that they can lose.  They want to impress folks with their prime real estate and well-heeled lobbyists.  But eventually it is hard to sustain really bad ideas in public policy – and the teacher union has embraced some really bad ideas. Eventually the “puffery” of swank offices succumbs to the substantive pursuit of good policy.  In the end, the power of the teacher union may be, in the words of Chairman Mao, little more than a paper tiger – or a well-placed building.


%d bloggers like this: