Ogden Utah School Board Faces Down Teachers Union

Ogden Utah School Board Faces Down Teachers Union

Congratulations go to the Ogden, Utah school board for their Take-It-Or-Leave It Contract Deal to the teachers’ union.

Teachers employed by the Ogden School District will get letters over this holiday weekend, informing them they have 20 days or fewer to sign a new contract or they will lose their jobs.

After months of contract negotiations with the teachers’ association, the school district announced Thursday that it will bypass the representative body and offer a take-it-or-leave-it contract deal to its individual teachers.

The letters sent to teachers end with the words: “Please note that should we not receive your signed contract by 4:00 p.m. on July 20, 2011, we will declare your current position open for hire.”

District Superintendent Noel R. Zabriskie said his word of choice to describe the school board’s decision, and the features of the new contract, is “bold.”

Doug Stephens, president of the Ogden Education Association, one of the organizations representing teachers in negotiations, said he is shocked.

“It is unprecedented in the state of Utah,” Stephens said. “It’s crazy. No school district or school board has ever done this before. This is a horrible thing.”

Under the new contract, teachers who sign will receive a 2.93 percent increase in salary, with 1.6 percent a cost-of-living raise. The raise money will come from the district’s rainy day fund.

The Ogden School District plans to phase out pay steps, a widely used system that rewards teachers with pay increases based on the number of years worked.

Zabriskie said the board’s five main goals in decision making were: no increase in taxes, no increases in class size, no reductions in the school year, no reduction in personnel (except where categorical funding was reduced), and no reduction in student programs.

Email From Jeremy Peterson, Utah House of Representatives

Jeremy Writes …

The local paper hates the idea as you can read from the amount of ink they gave to the union boss to trash the idea in the article. If you watch the video you can see that the Superintendant and board have taken a bold and much needed move. The Union folks are hating this.

The teachers don’t currently have a contract and the new contract states that they will be transitioning to performance pay over a 6 year period. Unlike past contracts which have lasted years, the new contracts are year-to-year. Teachers who don’t respond in the next three weeks will have their positions posted as “For Hire”. This is a bold and courageous move forward.

Best Way to Deal With Public Unions

At long last, someone is dealing with public unions the way they should be dealt with (assuming they need to be dealt with at all which they don’t). It would be better to get rid of them.

Mish Union Experiences

I have had many jobs in private industry. In not one of those jobs was I ever presented with anything other than a take-it-or-leave-it offer that unions are whining about.

I was actually a union member twice (not public unions), for short periods of time. The first was while working for a grocery store in Danville, Illinois, in high school. I became a union member more or less by accident. The store I worked at was bought out by a union store.

Because I was one of the best grocery baggers and fastest checkout clerks the store had, I worked the heavy traffic shifts such as Saturday afternoon instead of Saturday evening.

After the union came in, those who could not bag or run a register half as fast as I could got Saturday afternoon and I got stuck with Friday and Saturday evening because of seniority rules. I quit and went to another store.

My second experience with unions lasted precisely 3 days. I was hired by Lauhoff Grain Company in Danville and three days later the union went on strike over a lousy 10 cent an hour disagreement and that was that. I was never called back.

Unions Benefit the Weak and Punish Those With Skills

Unions punish those with skills in favor of those who put in their time. Unions benefit the weak at the expense of taxpayers and the strong.

Things are far worse in public unions because no one ever speaks up for the taxpayer.

Skilled Teachers Have Nothing To Fear

The more talented someone is, the more they should loathe unions.

It is in the vested interest of no one to get rid of highly skilled teachers. Likewise, it is in the vested interest of everyone except for union organizers and poor workers, to offer raises and promotions based on merit rather than longevity.

Thus, talented teachers have nothing to fear and everything to gain from a merit system. Sadly, most of them don’t realize it.

Worse yet, school kids are negatively impacted by union pay, impacted by the inability to get rid of poor teachers, and negatively impacted by all sorts of union complexities.

For more on the benefit of getting rid of collective bargaining of teachers, please read Union-Busting is a “Godsend”; Elimination of Collective Bargaining is the Single Best Thing one Can do for School Kids.

About the author: Mike “Mish” Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for Sitka Pacific Capital Management. His top-rated global economics blog Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis offers insightful commentary every day of the week. He is also a contributing “professor” on Minyanville, a community site focused on economic and financial education. Every Thursday he does a podcast on HoweStreet and on an ad hoc basis he contributes to many other websites, including UnionWatch.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!