Education #News #Politics #teachers union

Disuniting the Public Unions

The end result is in reach for those conservatives who have worked so hard to destroy public sector unions and along with them, the rest of the middle class.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Monday in the case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association about the legality of public unions charging people who don’t want to join them an agency fee that amounts to almost a full dues payment. The teachers who brought the case are arguing that everything public sector unions do is political since they use public taxpayer money for their contracts. And since, in their view, everything is political, the plaintiffs say that their first amendment rights are being violated because they’re being forced to support an entity, the union, that they don’t agree with.

The controlling opinion on this issue is a 1977 decision in the Abood case in Detroit. Back when the Supreme Court had conservatives who saw the value of unions, the court said that agency fees were constitutional. From the article:

In 1977’s Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which established the constitutional principle at stake in Friedrichs, Justice Potter Stewart acknowledged that compelling someone to support their bargaining units may affect their First Amendment rights. He listed several instances of employees disagreeing with the views of their union — on abortion, race relations, even unionism itself. But ultimately, Stewart acknowledged that “such interference” with a person’s views is “constitutionally justified” so as to allow “the important contribution of the union shop to the system of labor relations established by Congress.”

It seems almost quaint, the idea that the union movement is important. That’s what 30+ years of unrelenting opposition and hostility to worker’s rights and decent wages will do to a country.

What’s even more interesting and sad in a way, is the argument from the teachers (yes, teachers) who brought this case. Not everything a public union does is political. And any union or agency employee has the absolute right to speak out, to suggest ideas and to protest what they believe to be unfair actions that the union takes. Further, the union negotiates salary, benefits and working conditions for every employee, whether they are union members or not. If the fees were struck down, then many members would be benefiting from negotiations for free.

It gets even better. Harlan Elrich, one of the teachers in the case, wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed,  

“That the union would presume to push, allegedly on my behalf, for higher salaries at the expense of smaller class sizes and avoiding teacher layoffs is preposterous” 

He’s also quoted in the New York Times as saying,  

“I can negotiate for myself. I’m a good teacher, highly respected, and I can go anywhere.”

There are two terrifically dangerous assumptions at work here. The first is that we have a teacher who doesn’t want the union to ask for higher salaries for all teachers. Mr. Elrich might be doing fine financially, but many other teachers – including those in New Jersey who are taking home less pay every year because of increasingly burdensome health insurance payments – are not doing as well and are falling behind or struggling just to maintain a middle class life after going to college and starting their lives.

The second problem is his assumption that he, or any teacher, would be better off negotiating his own salary and benefits. In fact, Mr. Erlich is contradicting himself mightily by accusing the union of negotiating salaries beyond the means of the town to pay them, and maintaining that he can negotiate perhaps a better salary on his own, with the money coming from the same taxpayer pockets. And if he wants to seriously negotiate smaller class sizes and avoid teacher layoffs, then he should join the union and push for those things rather than try to freeload and then complain.

Having teachers becoming free agents is exactly what the corporate conservatives want because, like me, they understand that teachers are not really in a good position when it comes to negotiating for themselves. The reason? Because the public respect teachers for the job they do for their children, but they also think teachers get paid too much for a 10 month job. Mr. Ehrlich is likely in for a rude awakening if he wins and then goes to his Superintendent or Business Administrator and is offered less money because of thousands of new college graduates willing to take his job at, I’m guessing, about $30,000 dollars less.

It is incumbent upon all teacher’s unions to spend the rest of this school year explaining to their members why it’s important to stick together, and to remind them what teaching life was like before the association movement. Justices Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Roberts would surely love for people to forget salaries that required second jobs and administrative fiats that subverted the dignity and respect that teachers deserve.

All might not be lost at the Court because we never really know what the Justices are thinking (remember the two Affordable Care Act cases and marriage equality), but this one will be close and we don’t have Potter Stewart to fight for the value of unions. But we do have ourselves. I hope that’s enough.

For more, go to or Twitter @rigrundfest

Abortions #Politics

Republican Official Blame Abortions for California Drought

Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, was one of several Republicans calling for lawmakers to reject a measure to overhaul California's enterprise zone program, during the Assembly session at the  Capitol Thursday, June 27, 2013, in Sacramento, Calif.  The measure AB93 by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, and supported by Gov. Jerry Brown,  failed to pass on the two initial attempts, but was passed on the third vote. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

And you thought you had heard it all.

While speaking at the California ProLife Legislative Banquet last week, California Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R) suggested a theory that the state’s worst drought in 1,200 years may be divine retribution for California providing women with access to abortions, RH Reality Check reported.

“Texas was in a long period of drought until Governor Perry signed the fetal pain bill,” she told the audience. “It rained that night. Now God has his hold on California.”

Grove was likely referring to House Bill 2, RH Reality Check noted, a Texas abortion bill banning abortions 20 weeks after fertilization, four weeks earlier than the standard set by Roe v. Wade.

Grove did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation that she made the statement at the event, but she elaborated on her theory in a Facebook comment.

“I believe –and most Americans believe –that God’s hand is in the affairs of man, and certainly was in the formation of this country,” she wrote. “Is this drought caused by God? Nobody knows. But biblical history shows a consequence to man’s actions.”


Police Brutality – Cops Kicked, Punched and Shot Man With Taser in California – Video


The video below shows San Bernardino police officers, kicking, tasing and beating a man accused of stealing a horse in the Deep Creek area of Apple Valley California on Thursday. The disturbing video shows between 5 to 6 cops doing everything possible to go home to their families. The non responsive man received multiple kicks to the head, kicks to the groin and multiple body and face blows by the apparent scared bunch of cops.


Education #Featured

Teacher Hangs Herself In Classroom


No,  reports say her students were not in the classroom at the time, but they found her body hanging in the classroom when they reported for class.

Jillian Jacobson, 31, was pronounced dead at the scene at El Dorado High School in Placentia, some 30 miles (50 km) southeast of Los Angeles, said a spokesman.

Students and another teacher got her down to the floor before calling 911, said Placentia police spokesman Eric Point.

“It’s still an ongoing investigation but everything points to suicide… There’s no indication of foul play,” he said.

“From what I gather, she was very popular, well liked by the students and faculty,” he said. “It was definitely a shock to everybody.”

No note was found at the scene, but investigators were continuing to search for clues as to why she would have taken her life, said Point.


Man Shot By Police in The Heart of Hollywood – PIC


No one seems to know how to deescalate a situation anymore. One person always go home to their family,  which means the other person is more than likely making an unplanned, one way trip to the morgue.

The shooting occurred about 7 p.m. at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue in the heart of Hollywood’s entertainment and tourism district, Los Angeles Police Officer Jane Kim told BuzzFeed News.

Police were responding to a call for an assault with a deadly weapon when they arrived and found a suspect armed with a knife, Kim said. The man survived the shooting and was take to a hospital, but later died.

Police did not provide information about the suspect’s name, age, or ethnicity.

Lisa Bregman happened to be driving through the intersection at the moment the shooting occurred. Bregman said she heard a series of gunshots, then looked up and saw a man lying on the ground.

“It was more than one or two,” Bergman said of the number of gunshots. “Like maybe three or four.”

Bregman took a photo of the scene while police still had their guns drawn.

Featured #shooting

Conservative Tells Gun Victim’s Dad – “You Stupid Son Of a Bitch” A Gun Could have Saved Your Child

stan solomonConservative radio host Stan Solomon had a conversation with Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America. After the two lambasted liberals for trying to do something to curb the gun deaths in this country, they turned their attention to the recent killings in California, where a 22 year old killed six people before taking his own life.

Solomon had a word of advise for the father of one of the victims. “The father of one of the girls who was killed blamed the NRA,” he said, “and my response is, ‘You stupid son of a bitch, what the hell is wrong with you? If you had taught your daughter how to have and use a weapon, she might still be alive.'”

Guns, the conservative’s answer to gun violence!


marijuana #Politics #Weed

San Jose – Vote Today and Get Free Weed


Cannabis clubs in San Jose are offering free pot and discounts to patients who go to the polls Tuesday and vote in several contested races.

The Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition is organizing the “Weed for Votes” program as an effort to increase voter turnout at Tuesday’s election.

“We have a huge opportunity to make a large impact in who runs San Jose,” coalition director John Lee said in a statement. “Although we may not have regulations on the June ballot, insuring the right politicians are elected is even more important.”