Sun, Sep

BeLABORing the Point: “Boss” Isn’t Just a Four-Letter Word


ALPERN AT LARGE - There’s hardly a day that goes by that we don’t hear about the horrible, never-ending unemployment that plagues our nation, and that we need to do better to get people working and resume their normal lives.  But who would have thought that “Exhibit A” of fixing what’s wrong with creating the right relationship between management and unions would be … A.J. Duffy?

You remember Mr. Duffy, the whining, bombastic fellow who drove the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) teacher’s union’s credibility into the ground?  The man who helped make “UTLA” a four-letter word for parents, civil rights attorneys and taxpayers alike?  Well, now he’s another four-letter word—a “boss”—and he actually has to make the decisions of running charter schools like an adult.

Duffy’s opposition as UTLA leader to charter schools and removing tenured-but-guilty-of-gross misconduct teachers was legendary in its brazenness and its removal from the reality being embraced by educational reformists throughout the state and nation, but as a new charter executive director, he’s into streamlining the process of removing proven teacher failures (tenured or otherwise) and promoting charter schools. (Link)

Of course, the LA Times isn’t the only entity wondering if Duffy is a reformed true believer, or just an opportunist loyal only to his paycheck. (Link)  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinionla/la-ed-duffy-20110904,0,5210792.story  But in light of Mayor Villaraigosa’s own past/present teacher’s union switcheroo, and even that of President Obama, it does call into question whether teachers need to overthrow a misguided, power-hungry union leadership that has dragged everyone down.

After all, the question of whether teacher or other public sector union leadership has dragged their membership and taxpayers down the hellish road of socialism is a fair one that is being asked by individuals of all political stripes.

Similarly, there is no shortage of infuriated taxpayers and pundits, both liberal and conservative, who (even if they acknowledge how the TARP program of Presidents Bush and Obama was a success) want heads to roll on Wall Street for what they did to the nation’s investors, taxpayers and homeowners.  Whether it’s socialism run amok, or capitalism run amok, the word “amok” is hardly something we want in our personal, political or economic realities.

Even if the watered-down laws of previous presidential administrations prevented criminal prosecution, it’s gratifying to learn that civil lawsuits are being pursued by the feds. (Link)

It’s also hoped that the Dodd-Frank bill (named after two of the losers who got us into this mess over the past 20 years) can be amended and improved upon to make sure a subprime mortgage crisis never happens again.

And it bears reminding that former President Reagan, hardly an anti-capitalist, came down hard on Wall Street during the Savings & Loan crisis of the 1980’s—so there’s no reason to tie political games with economic games, whether it be from a public sector union (like UTLA) or a corporate giant (like Goldman Sachs), when bad behavior occurs.

No one likes a cheater, and no one likes a bully, and no one should be forced to tolerate said bad behavior just because either the GOP or the Democratic Party has used that bad behavior to make political gains.

What we need more than ever, at either the political or economic level, is a true “boss”.  Someone who leads by example, and someone who knows what fair play, blowback and credibility all mean to a society.

True management occurs at all levels—from the employer, from the union leadership, and even from workers who want to move ahead in their job (or perhaps work more than one job).  Labor is really, really hurting on Labor Day—particularly at the union level, (link) http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_18827645?source=rss  and in large part it is doing so because the wealth is being spread around to too few people.

Corporate conglomerates are to be feared by hardworking individuals who want to receive reasonable wages and benefits, but so, too, is union leadership to be feared by these same hard workers.  

Tenured or protected workers who aren’t held to scrutiny are as burdensome as employers who operate without scrutiny—they both hurt productivity and quality of life, and they’ve both really, REALLY hurt employment in this country.

When employers (who need to build loyalty among their workers, not fear) and union leaders (who need to ensure profit-sharing and benefits among their members, not their own power) sit down together to consolidate both profitability and quality benefits for investors and employees alike, a more cooperative and less confrontational 21st century approach to employer/labor relationships can occur.

Being a “boss” can really mean something good again, like we’ve seen with Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.  

Truly lousy employees should be bounced out of work by their union leaders for the benefit of the other employees who’ve had to suffer from their nonsense.  Truly lousy mid-level and even senior-level employers should be bounced out of their seats of corporate power for the benefit of investors and employees who’ve had to similarly suffer.

And if the owner of a given company is abusive, we need to have enough alternative work opportunities to let that person lose his good workers and go out of business.  

After several years of a miserable employment situation in our nation, the unemployed, the underemployed, and the employed-but-overworked have earned the right to first-rate management from either our employers and our unions—especially since we’ve all learned to be our own bosses in what is turning out to be the Second Great Depression of our nation.

Which is a point that can’t be beLABORed enough as we think about the status of our workforce during this past Labor Day Holiday.


Tags: boss, labor, President Obama, TARP, President Reagan, UTLA, teachers union, A.J. Duffy, Charter Schools, Wall Street, Savings and Loan crisis, Democratic Party, GOP

Vol 9 Issue 71
Pub: Sept 6, 2011