Hey, whaddaya know? In Massachusetts, justice prevailed.
When last we looked, retired Marine Major Stephen Godin, the ROTC commander for the Junior ROTC program in Worcester, Massachusetts, was standing up to the teacher’s union. The union demanded that Godin either join the union (and pay his dues) or pay them $500 per year for the privilege of not being a member, but keeping his job. Godin argued that he received absolutely nothing from the union (he gets all his benefits from the federal government, as well as half his pay — at a rate the feds also set), so he didn’t feel like paying for nothing. The union’s argument boiled down to “nobody teaches in Worcester public schools without paying us for the privilege.”
Initially, a Republican state senator (one of five out of forty) put forth a bill that would exempt Godin and others in similar positions from mandatory union membership. Senator Tisei’s bill was killed by the Democrats. (Tisei, it should be noted is running for Lieutenant Governor this fall.)
Well, Tisei tried again. He attached the language to another bill, and this one was passed — and signed by Governor Deval “Obama Lite” Patrick.
Aside from the delight in seeing justice prevail (especially in Massachusetts), there’s an interesting political context here. Massachusetts is the bluest of blue states — Democrats hold over 85% of each House, every single statewide elective office, all ten US House seats, and — until the election of Scott Brown last January — both US Senate seats. And it took Ted Kennedy’s death to pry that seat out of their hands.
Patrick isn’t that popular a governor, and the unions did a hell of a lot to get him elected. He’s going to need all the help he can get to keep his job this fall. He must have done some serious calculus to go against the unions on this high-profile a matter.
That the unions would lose this fight where they had every right to believe they’d win says a hell of a lot about their current strength. If there’s any state where they hold power, it has to be Massachusetts — especially the public employee unions. Hell, they’ve even got a law that forbids road crews from having their own flagmen — they HAVE to hire an off-duty police officer to direct traffic around their work site. And a lot of cops make very good money from those assignments.
Anyway, Major Godin can continue to help the young men and women of Worcester, as he has for 14 years, without having to pay the shakedown money to the teacher’s union. He can continue to ignore them, and they will have to live without his money.
Just as well for them. I suspect that if they had succeeded, the good major would have suddenly developed a tremendous interest in his union’s activities, and been a very vocal and active new member.