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The ROTC Plot Thickens

Well, the brouhaha surrounding Major Stephen Godin (USMC-Retired), the ROTC instructor in Worcester, Massachusetts, continues. As you might recall, the good major was informed that if he wishes to continue teaching, he either had to join the teacher's union or pay a $500.00 annual shakedown to the union.

The major then did a very foolish thing: he applied common sense to the situation. (Must have been his military training that led him so far astray.) Since he receives all his benefits and half his pay from the federal government, and his pay rate is set by the federal government, he saw absolutely no benefit to him in joining the union. So he told them -- politely -- to go pound sand.

In response, the union is working to get him fired.

There have been two notable developments in recent days. First up, the Massachusetts Republicans in the legislature (who really, really ought to be put on the Endangered Species list -- they hold only 20 of 200 seats) saw an opportunity to score some political points and pushed a bill that would exempt Major Godin from having to join a union. The Democrats, however, remembered that they're basically owned by Big Labor, and killed the move.

The union in question, however, either didn't get the message to "stand firm" or is stalling. Their president said that they never got Major Godin's refusal to join (he apparently sent it to a retired e-mail address), and were shocked -- shocked! -- about the whole controversy. They're going to give this matter their undivided attention now, though.

The major's case is simple. He doesn't see any benefits in joining the union, and would cheerfully sign away any that they might claim are extended to him. He wants nothing to do with them and just doesn't want to give them any of his money.

The union's position seems to be based on their belief that they "own" the school system, and anyone who wants to work in that system better pay up. It's more than a little reminiscent of a classical "protection" scheme -- only, in this case, they've gotten the government to back their "right" to demand the "licensing" fees.

Common sense ought to prevail here, and the Major should be left alone to do what he has done with such distinction for the last 14 years.

But this is Massachusetts. Common sense is an even more rare find than an elected Republican in the Bay State.


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Comments (33)

A) this IS MASSACHUSSETTS<b... (Below threshold)
epador:

A) this IS MASSACHUSSETTS
B) this is only the feint of the red cape before the sword drives home to the heart of the matter - OLE!
C) I suspect a majority if not a plurality of local residents have been horrified at the presence of ROTC on campus and are happy (Bless Obama SOMEONE is doing something about this outrage!) the union is doing something about it for them.

Let's see if "down town" Sc... (Below threshold)
recovered liberal democrat:

Let's see if "down town" Scotty Brown will step up or be another opportunist "RINO" Senator.

in the current era Unions a... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

in the current era Unions are NOT about workplace conditions and hiring/firing practices...and in the case of Public Sector Unions (SEIU) not even about bargaining. We have stacks of laws and regulations that handle all those things for them.

Unions are about POWER. Raw POWER.

Major Godin threatens that power. Pray for him.

Perhaps the Justice nominee... (Below threshold)
epador:

Perhaps the Justice nominee Kagan could offer an opinion here?

Mass is not uniformly (pard... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Mass is not uniformly (pardon the pun) liberal. The majority actually detest the dems and their death grip on the government. It's less about the politics than it is about the corruption.

That being said, I cannot tell you much about Worcester as I'm new to the state and live near Boston (yeah, I know in a state this small EVERYTHING is near Boston). Still, outside of Cambridge and Amherst the state is pretty normal.

But since JT raises the issue this really is a case of licensing workers to do a job. Like most licensing schemes it has nothing to do with the quality of the work being performed or the services provided by the granter of the license. It has everything to do with the tax or fee imposed upon he worker.

Where are all the libs who cried about how licensing makes our world a safer place? Can't they come and explain to us how it is that having spent the time money and effort to get a license from the state to teach the teachers now have to get a license from the union?

"The union's position se... (Below threshold)
Lee Ward:

"The union's position seems to be based on their belief that they "own" the school system, and anyone who wants to work in that system better pay up."

Naw, it's pretty simple really. The union and the school district have a contract that states the employees in question are represented by the union.

In that contract I'm sure there is the standard union/company language whereby the school district agrees to dismiss any employee who is not in good standing with the union within xx days - typically 30 - 90 days.

Major Godin was no doubt informed that he'd have to join the union as a condition of employment and he no doubt accepted the position on that basis, then had buyer's remorse and decided the he would change the terms of the contract and violate federal law.

He'll quit, be fired or he'll join the union. It's just that simple. I guarantee that he will not remain in his current position without joining the union - and I base that opinion on 20 years as a the manager of a union shop negotiating contracts, reading and following NLRB rules and regs, etc.

"Common sense ought to prevail here, and the Major should be left alone to do what he has done with such distinction for the last 14 years. "

Common sense says that there is a contract between two parties that is enforceable by law and Major Godin doesn't have a leg to stand in in this instance. He'll quit or be fired, since I suspect he is too stubborn to honor the conditions of his employment that require the join the union.

This isn't anything new. These kind of "you can't make me" challenges come up all the time. They always end with the union prevailing.

Now this case is a bit uniq... (Below threshold)

Now this case is a bit unique with the fact that someone with some Moxey is standing up, but truth be told it is not uncommon. Our schools are a breeding ground of corruption by administration, unions and districting.

We lost focus of the accomplishments a child could do years ago, as we have seen in a recent news story about schools opening test answers to cheat for the children(because why $$ in their pockets).

It is time to consider an alternative method as I am sick and tired of hearing of all the woes, and then being told that the solution is $$.

For Major Godin- I say thank you for shining in a sea of misery. I say that because of you there is a small glimmer of hope for those who have been held hostage by unions all of their careers. Thank you and thank goodness that you have had some time to influence some children and I pray you can continue to do so.

Its not so clear, Lee, but ... (Below threshold)
epador:

Its not so clear, Lee, but thanks for a coherent post to respond to.

There is a STATE law involved here that the union is now trying to apply to the Major, though it appears it hasn't for over a decade and now suddenly is. Its not entirely clear from news reports whether the State law should be inforced here (as it involves a Federally negotiated position).

At any rate, my position stands: Someone in Worcester got the bright idea of getting rid of him this way. The union is following through on their suggestion. I suspect a fair portion of the local population supports getting rid of him (remember that there are lots of non-parents who vote), and he will go down. Not so pretty as your explanation, Lee, but your description of the process is otherwise good to go.

"The major then did a very ... (Below threshold)
914:

"The major then did a very foolish thing:"


What? Vote for Barry 2012?

oops, another typo: enforc... (Below threshold)
epador:

oops, another typo: enforced

My spell checker doesn't work at werk.

I wish I was at work... (Below threshold)
914:


I wish I was at work epador! Life and another beer are so boring.

Gee, what a surprise. Lee W... (Below threshold)

Gee, what a surprise. Lee Ward supports enforcing a law against someone who dares stand up against The Collective, speaks out against the individual being coerced and oppressed.

And, when an individual irritates the Powers That Be, going digging until you can find SOMETHING to get rid of him. Gee, where have we seen that sort of thing happen before?

The principle is clear: Godin gets NOTHING from the union. He wants nothing from the union. He will accept nothing from the union. So why should he pay for it?

Sadly for the Major, he's not a liberal. So the option of whining about how unfair the law is and ignoring it isn't available. Instead, he has to challenge the law openly and fight it.

In the bluest of blue states, he has little chance of winning. But he's fighting the good fight, and bringing to light just how lousy the situation is.

J.

Of course Lee supports Nazi... (Below threshold)
Michael:

Of course Lee supports Nazi tactics.

"Gee, what a surprise. L... (Below threshold)
Lee Ward:

"Gee, what a surprise. Lee Ward supports enforcing a law against someone who dares stand up against The Collective, speaks out against the individual being coerced and oppressed."

Just as I stood up for the Constitution yesterday, I will stand up for contracts today.

It's a union contract administered by the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) and there are legal recourses and remedies for Major Godin should he choose to pursue them.

It's simple, there's a contract that says the school employees in Major Godin's classification must join the union.

An amicable solution is pretty simple also - the school board and the union could decide Mr Godin is an independent contractor - many union contracts permit contractors to work without joining the union. Since ROTC is (I believe) a non-curriculum activity I think this is a good avenue worth pursuing.

Or Major Godin could have his salary and benefits fully paid by the feds, and have him "teach" as a non-union employee. That might take a letter of agreement between the school district and the union, but those are common - where a specific contract clause has an exemption that exempts this one employee, etc.

I was party to dozens of such agreements. I've never been a union member but I've been on the management side of union-company relations for over 20 years. Throughout that time I've found there are amicable ways of working out disagreements like this.

If both parties want to work it out, that is -- if not, the contract is inevitably enforced.

But then, here in the United States, we live in a civilized world where the courts do their best to hold up contract provisions provided there was no coercion, etc. in the creation of the contract, and provided the contract provisions are not against the law, etc.

I know it makes you mad, Jay, that there are laws and contracts and such. People should just be able to do whatever they want whenever they want, in your mind, and the law and such matters like contracts be damned.

Sadly for you and folks like you, it doesn't work that way.

Since the Major has worked ... (Below threshold)
codekeyguy:

Since the Major has worked in the district for 14 years (if I recall correctly) already, looks like all the "Nazis" (Sorry, Lee, couldn't resist) really screwed up here. I assume they want 14 years BACK DUES!!! I'm with the Major, "GO POUND SAND!".

"The principle is clear:... (Below threshold)
Lee Ward:

"The principle is clear: Godin gets NOTHING from the union. He wants nothing from the union. He will accept nothing from the union. So why should he pay for it? "

No, that's not true. If he works on school property he benefits from contract-enforced working conditions. Since a portion of his pay is paid by the district that pay is in all likelihood negotiated by the union.

I agree that this is a sticky wicket since he's working for two employers simultaneously. If the union contract doesn't provide a solution then the two parties will negotiate a solution and incorporate that into the union contract in the form of a side letter.

He can't just declare himself not covered by the union and walk away. That's a childish, immature approach to problem solving.

And fortunately if you one of those who click through and read the articles linked, you'll find that Jay has, in my opinion, grossly misrepresented the circumstances and attitudes of the parties invloved, not to mention obscured basic facts.

Major Godin has indeed benefited from the union, and the parties seem to be looking for an adult solution to the problem:

Union President Cheryl DelSignore, who has repeatedly ignored Herald calls for comment, issued a statement yesterday challenging Godin's claim that the union doesn't benefit him.

Godin has said the military sets his salary, pays part of it and provides his health insurance. DelSignore insisted yesterday the union negotiated in 2003 for JROTC instructors to earn $11,000 more by putting them on the military pay schedule, and provides free attorneys to ROTC instructors if they are disciplined.

Godin said, "They're kind of confused. In fact, I am on the military pay scale that was in place in 1994." He said he expects to meet with union officials today. "Really what I'm looking for at this point is for them to take a look at their collective-bargaining agreement and declare junior ROTC instructors fall outside of it," he said.

A side letter to that effect is a reasonable solution, and one that I suspect the union will go along with.

You just won't hear that news on the right wing blogs.

"Union President Cheryl Del... (Below threshold)
914:

"Union President Cheryl DelSignore,'"

Are you referrring to Darkside Cheney or brightside Barak?


If I could have a beer for ... (Below threshold)
epador:

If I could have a beer for every patient that no showed today, well, I wouldn't be typing because I couldn't. It's a good thing I have a short luch hour.

"If I could have a beer ... (Below threshold)
Lee Ward:

"If I could have a beer for every patient that no showed today..."

World Cup Fever strikes again?

My brother is a retired Air... (Below threshold)
SShiell:

My brother is a retired Air Force LTC and a Junior ROTC instructor and has faced the same problems - mandatory Union dues and also mandatory teacher testing requirements. Both of which he has challenged and both of which he has won, albeit in another state.

The first problem was simply solved because their pay could not be garnished by the Union without a Federal Warrant. The second problem because the individuals teaching ROTC got their certifications not from the school system or state but from the military. The required testing was apples and oranges to the system.

But then again this is the Peoples Republic of Massachussetts and all bets are off when it comes to common sense.

Naw Lee, I doubt there are ... (Below threshold)
epador:

Naw Lee, I doubt there are many on the Peninsula who follow the cup. More likely the Mexicans brought in a new shipment of PRIMO last night and everyone's too stoned to drive anywhere.

Lee,Part of the prob... (Below threshold)
JFH:

Lee,
Part of the problem you and many others have is that you equate the military with federal or state employees or, especially, private union employees.

Military officer's don't "sign contracts" of enlist for a period of service like enlisted military members. The major CANNOT for example strike with the rest of the teachers if labor negotiations breakdown, even if he favors the union position. As for negotiated good working conditions (which to a Marine is a laughable benefit based on their training), that's a weak argument. Any working conditions not already established by federal law, don't apply to the major. For example, the number of working days, vacation, and overtime rules don't apply to him as an active duty reserve officer.

Besides, and this is what the union doesn't get, a JROTC instructor is NOT an employee of the school system, but equivalent to a contract worker. I, could be wrong, but I doubt the janitors aren't covered by the teacher's union, nor is the volunteers that participate in programs such as Junior Achievement. Nothing that the teachers union affects these people and the major.

The biggest canard that I've seen is that the major should have known what the "rules" were before he took the job. Obviously, if he's been working for 14 years without union dues, that establishes a standard of past practices which MUST be honored by the employer (AFTER ALL UNIONS HAVE USED THIS TRICK FOR OVER 50 YEARS TO ESTABLISH UNION RULES THAT DON'T EXIST IN A CONTRACT)

JFH: "Besides, and this ... (Below threshold)
Lee Ward:

JFH: "Besides, and this is what the union doesn't get, a JROTC instructor is NOT an employee of the school system, but equivalent to a contract worker. I, could be wrong, but I doubt the janitors aren't covered by the teacher's union, nor is the volunteers that participate in programs such as Junior Achievement. Nothing that the teachers union affects these people and the major."

Since the reports are that he receives half his pay from the school district the argument can be made that he is a school employee.

I agree that changing his status to contractor could solve the problem, I made that point above as well.

And I don't know if the ROTC program is part of the school curriculum or if it is considered extra-curricular.

All good points, and all matters worth considering.

"Naw Lee, I doubt there are many on the Peninsula who follow the cup. More likely the Mexicans brought in a new shipment of PRIMO last night and everyone's too stoned to drive anywhere."

lol. Which peninsula would that be, Justrand?

In ethnically diverse areas such as the SF Bay area where I live World Cup Fever is high. The Asian restaurateur where I bought my lunch burger yesterday struck up a conversation about the world cup - in an accent so thick he had to repeat himself several times so I could understand what he was saying.

And the Greek guy who sold me my breakfast burrito this morning was just chattering away about this morning's match between Mexico and South Africa (they tied 1-1).

Soccer never caught on big in the US in part because the format (45 minutes per half with no time outs) doesn't suit commercial tv - they just can't make money at it.

The World Cup broadcasters here in the US (ABC and ABC-owned ESPN) are running half hour shows before and after each match, and capturing ad revenue that way - but that's only because its the once every four years World Cup.

I better be careful - Jay's looking for an excuse to ban my ass. He'll ignore your off-topic comment about missing patients and zero in on my off-topic reply as an excuse. Mum's the word - this conversation never happened. And no breakfast burritos were harmed in the production of this comment, I swear.

I better be careful - Ja... (Below threshold)

I better be careful - Jay's looking for an excuse to ban my ass.

It is to laugh. Behind the scenes, I'm actually arguing with my colleagues to NOT ban you. I have actually extended my "protection" over you from -- at last count -- six different proposals to ban you. You continue here, Lee, purely at my sufferance.

Because I find you vaguely entertaining.

Further, I don't NEED an "excuse" to ban you. I could do it this instant, for any number of reasons, or no reason at all -- and I would be applauded nearly unanimously by the readership. You would be lucky to have a single supporter (I'm thinking jim x), and I would have probably two dozen thank-yous.

Care to put it to the test, Lee? I could put in the ban tonight, if you wish. It's only a few clicks -- as you well know, as you used to have a hair-trigger on that before you ran Wizbang Blue right into the ground.

As of right now, I'm opposed to banning you. You could change that with a single request, Lee, but that's pretty much the only thing that would change the status quo.

J.

I could do it t... (Below threshold)
I could do it this instant, for any number of reasons, or no reason at all -- and I would be applauded nearly unanimously by the readership.
Personally, I'm in favor of the "no reason at all" option.
I am in favor of a Lee Ward... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

I am in favor of a Lee Ward Said posting, highlighting his positions and lies. Then he can't hide behind the off topic banning defense.

Lee, if the stuff you've be... (Below threshold)
epador:

Lee, if the stuff you've been smoking isn't good enough, don't come to the peninsula I work on. Try Thailand or Cambodia. Just don't get caught there.

I don't think JT will ban me for suggesting you take a little trip overseas.

SCSI: It would annoy my col... (Below threshold)

SCSI: It would annoy my colleagues, who grew bored of my smacking Lee around a long, long time ago. I suspect if I wasn't the Senior Non-Kevin writer here, I'd have been stomped down a while ago.

epador: only if you suggest it be a round trip. Make it a one-way trip, and you're safe.

J.

I was hoping my "don't get ... (Below threshold)
epador:

I was hoping my "don't get caught" would not be too subtle for you, JT. Sigh.

Could be another reason the... (Below threshold)
Stan:

Could be another reason the Mass Teacher's union wants to be rid of the Major. He is military and we all know how Lee Ward and his buddies hate anything that is military. If the Major goes, that would be an excellent excuse to close down the ROTC program in that particular school district.

I was party to dozens of... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

I was party to dozens of such agreements. I've never been a union member but I've been on the management side of union-company relations for over 20 years.

Bathhouses are unionized? Who knew?

"Common sense is an even mo... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"Common sense is an even more rare find than an elected Republican in the Bay State."

"Commons sense" and "teachers union" are two phrases that are usually mutually exclusive.

If they "own" the school, t... (Below threshold)
Jerry in Detroit:

If they "own" the school, then we can discontinue their contract for poor performance and contract it to someone else. As it stands, you're spending more money for less education and much of your money is used to lobby against you, the taxpayer.




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