The Instigator
darkkermit
Pro (for)
Winning
50 Points
The Contender
medic0506
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The collective bargaining rights of teachers should be removed

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 8 votes the winner is...
darkkermit
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/9/2011 Category: Education
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,188 times Debate No: 17834
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (7)
Votes (8)

 

darkkermit

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for participating in this tournament. As part of the debate format, in each round one is either affirming one's own case or making a rebuttal. Never both in the same round. This is to save character space. The final round is a conclusion, in which no arguments or rebuttals are made. Each side just makes a case why he felt his arguments were better. If my opponent accepts these conditions then we shall proceed.

Definition
Collective bargaining – workers do not bargain their salary as an individual, but collectively as an organization, usually through a trade union that represent their interests, using various tactics to obtain higher salaries and benefits, which would fail under individual action.

I will use the moral framework of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism states that an action should be taken If the utility, or well being of society, will be improved overall from that action.

I concede that removing collective bargaining would harm employed teachers. However in this policy, the benefit teachers obtain are so low in comparison to the utility society would receive that the good outweighs the bad.

I will make the assumption that education benefits society. Education teaches students critical thinking and students learn information that can benefit themselves through a higher salary and benefit society as a whole. Schooling is an issue that affects everyone. Everyone has had to go to school at some point in their life and many parents have children in school. A well educated population is necessary If a nation wants to remain a wealthy nation and to uphold the ideas of the republic. I can embark more on why education is important, but unless questioned, I will assume it is a given.

I will also demonstrate that removing collective bargaining rights would increase the efficiency of school systems and would allow for school reforms that would improve education. This benefits society since it reduces costs on education and improves education.

It will note why collective bargaining in the private sector is vastly different then collective bargaining in the public sector.

The collective bargaining power of unions in the private sector is relatively weak. If a labor union demands higher compensation, the private firm may be unable to deliver it, since the polices can bankrupt the firm. This is the reason why only 6.9% of workers in the private sector are privatized[1].

However, labor unions in the public sector are more powerful because they receive compensation from the state. State programs do not compete fairly against private programs. As a result, 36.2% of public employees are unionized[1].

The state can obtain funds from tax payers, offer their services for ‘free', and create laws that either disallow or make it difficult for private companies to enter the market. Private companies can only make a profit If consumers are willing to pay for the product, while the public sector can extract money through force. If one does not want a ‘public good', then he or she has to pay for it anyways or else be thrown in jail.

Therefore, since the public sector does not need to worry about bankruptcy and acquiring funds as much as the private sector, labor unions can increase the price of their labor and block reform that will improve education.

Teacher unions also have incredible political and social power. If a teacher union decides to go on strike then news media and parents will be in a frenzy. Parents will be upset that their child is not getting an education and it will obtain press coverage. Politicians will be blamed, and possibly lose reelection over the ordeal. Therefore, teacher unions can use strikes far more effectively more than almost any other organization. In terms of political power, teacher unions greatly influence public opinion. For example, many people believe the myth that teachers are overpaid, which I will explain later. Parents, teachers, and celebrities were able to create a huge rallies in Washington DC and Wisconsin to support them[2]. Teacher unions use their fees to pay for politician's campaign fees and lobbying. The National Educational Association has spent over 12 million dollars in Washington from 2008-2010.[3] "Coincidentally" , the NEA spent over twice as much money they do normally during the same time period that school choice movement became big and three well made documentary videos advocating school choice and reform.
Even liberal president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, known for dramatically increasing the size of the public sector stated:

"The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service," [4]

It is a myth that most teachers are underpaid. As John Stossel segment shows, teachers are paid more than the average wage in America. They also enjoy many perks such as pension plans, job security, and summers off. Hour per hour, teachers make more than psychologist, chemists, and physical therapists. People choose a job based on a number of reasons. However, people are free to choice a job that he or she finds most satisfying or pays well. Nobody is forced to work an ‘underpaid' job. If teachers were indeed ‘underpaid' we would expect to see a shortage of teachers and people would not apply to be a teacher. However, If anything there is a surplus of qualified teachers. In some cities, there is a 12:1 ratio between applications and open jobs [5]. These statistics are from BEFORE the great recession. This surplus is bad since potential teachers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to attain a degree in education, only to find that there are no jobs in education.

It should also be noted that it is nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher. While in most occupations, If one is bad in one's profession or behaves poorly, he or she is fired. However, due to tenure, the legal fees, amount of steps and length of time it takes to fire a tenured teacher makes the process impossible. Accordingly, approximately only 1 in 1000 of teachers are fired while most other occupations have a much higher firing or turnover rate. For example 1 in every 57 doctors will lose their medical license[6].

Teacher unions have also successful been blocking educational reforms that would improve America's education. For example, school vouchers have been proven to improve children's reading, math and writing comprehensibility however teacher unions are taking measures to make sure these reforms do not occur[7]. Likewise, teacher unions also blocking reforms to use merit-pay. For example, in Washington DC, the school chancellor offered a plan in which teachers could give up tenure-pay for the opportunity to potential earn as much as $144,000 based on merit per year. The union would not even allow the issue to come to a vote.[6]

With improvements in technology and access to capital, almost all goods and services have improved since 1970. Modern cars, phones, televisions, and computers have all improved. Many of these products are even cheaper than they were 40 years ago. However, education has become more expensive and test scores have not improved at all[8]. It is because the collective bargaining power is so strong that America has not seen any improvements in education.

Removing collective bargaining power would improve schools, and reduce cost on education that taxpayers have to pay through coercion.

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medic0506

Con

I would like to thank Darkkermit for his participation, as well, and look forward to a fruitful discussion. He and I discussed this issue in the forums, a while back, and had some differing opinions so it should be fun to formally debate this topic and see what comes out of it. I will be representing the con position, arguing that the bargaining rights of teachers should not be removed.

Opening Argument

It's unfortunate that we're having this debate, not just on DDO, but on a national level, as well. Teachers are instrumental in shaping who we are as individuals, in some cases even more so than parents. We rarely stop to consider just how important they are in establishing a foundation, for the success of our nation. Everything we are, everything we will become, every success we have in life, will be at least partially attributable to the contributions of teachers. The thought of taking collective bargaining rights away, thus removing all workplace protections, seems appalling to me. If any group of people deserve to be protected, it's teachers.
Throughout this debate I will attempt to show good cause for allowing teachers to keep collective bargaining rights. I will also make a number of points, in support of my position through refutation of my opponents arguments. Hopefully after this debate, you'll agree that this group of dedicated professionals that we entrust with our most prized possessions, our children, deserves to have a means of protection, in the workplace.

Teachers Need Protection

Few ever stop to consider the tremendous amount of liability that teachers carry on their shoulders, on a daily basis. In today's letigious society, the simple act of hugging a child, even if initiated by the child, can be misconstrued as inapropriate contact, by an angry parent. Every aspect of a teacher's life is tied to their job. Their morality, their beliefs, what they do in their private lives, both past and present, what they do on-line, can subject them to disciplinary action, under the broad term "moral turpitude".
In the classroom, teachers are evaluated formally, or informally, a number of times each year. A big part of their effectiveness though, is based on how their students do on standardized testing. This part of the evaluation leaves out many important factors, not the least of which, is the quality of the students themselves. If students don't understand the importance of, or simply don't care how they do on these tests, and many don't, this can have a negative effect on administrators' view of how effective that teacher is. The simple fact is that not all kids want to learn, and try as they might, teachers can only do so much. At that point, a teacher is dependent on school administrators and parents being engaged. Teachers are willing to accept responsibility for their students, but at some point, we have to accept the fact that they are severely limited in what they can do, and stop holding them responsible. The problem is that the public, and many administrators, don't draw a line, holding the teacher wholely responsible for that student, in spite of failed parents and administrators. Unions provide fair representation for teachers in disciplinary matters, and strive to assure that the action taken against teachers is just.
Later I will go into some legal issues involved in the argument over collective bargaining. In meeting his burden of proof, my opponent needs to show why these laws, dealing with the constitutional rights of individuals, should be changed. It should also become apparent to the reader that in enacting these laws, our legislatures are conceding that teachers need protection in the workplace. The very nature of their work makes them vulnerable to unfair treatment from the public, school officials, and the public agency that employs them.
There are many other reasons why teachers need protection, and they will be discussed throughout this debate, things like financial issues, difficulty in firing teachers, etc. I'm intentionally leaving them out of my argument because I'm sure they'll be introduced by my opponent, so they will be addressed in refutation.

Past Practice

"Past practice is a labor relations term of art that is used to describe a pattern of behavior that is clear and unequivocal, longstanding, known to both parties, and accepted without protest or significant attempt to stop the behavior. If the pattern of behavior is not in conflict with law or controlling government-wide regulations, and if it involves a condition of employment of bargaining unit employees, it usually qualifies as a "past practice"". (1)

As a representative of the United Steelworkers of America for nine years, I argued a number of grievances and contract issues on the grounds of past practice. It's usually easy to win a past practice case, however there are exceptions. The above description is a very good guideline for what it takes to win. The supreme court has ruled that past practice can be sufficient for setting precedence. I'm not going to post a whole lot of case law though, because bottom line is that the effectiveness of a past practice argument is dependent on whether it is, or is not, "in conflict with law or controlling government-wide regulations". If state or local laws expressly prohibit collective bargaining for teachers, past practice will likely fail as a legal challenge, even if they've had that right for 10 years, simply because it conflicts with law. However, if state or local law is ambiguous, or does not "expressly" prohibit collective bargaining, and those rights have been given to teachers for a time, then there is little reason to deny that as a legal precedent, given the supreme court's findings on past practice as precedent.
From a legal standpoint, the effectiveness of a past practice argument is going to vary with each state, according to the law, as written. It DOES become an effective argument in this debate though, when you stop to consider that if it were "expressly prohibited" in state law, those rights would likely not have been given to teachers, in the first place.

Other Legal Issues

Public employees are not covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), federal act that gives private sector employees the right to unionize, and requires employers to bargain with unions (2).
There are some states though, that have their own version of the NLRA specifically for public sector employees, that does give them those rights (3).

Removing collective bargaining rights from teachers may be discriminatory. Other public employees have collective bargaining rights, firefighters, police, etc. Removing these rights from teachers, because they are public employees, while allowing them to remain for other public employees is difficult to defend as non-discriminatory. Of course this issue will vary by location, and law.

Specialization and Demands

Teaching is a specialized field, in that the educational requirements have few applications in other fields. We demand that teachers be highly qualified, and highly educated. We require them to get a degree in education, but above elementary school, we require a more specialized degree. We demand that they have these things, which require student loans for most people, so we must be willing to pay for them, and allow protections for those who do what we require.

I look forward to Dark's response on these issues.




1. http://www.ilrf.net...
2. http://www.dol.gov...
3. http://www.nysdeputy.org...
Debate Round No. 1
darkkermit

Pro

I thank my opponent for his reply. I will not debunk some of my opponents claims.

Introduction

I resent that my opponent stated that it is ‘unfortunate’ that we are having this debate both here on a national level. This statement is outrageous. Should the status quo not be challenged, especial If the status quo is harming America’s economic performance, and damaging America’s schools?

Also, this debate is not about whether education and teachers are important. Of course I realize the value of teachers and education. This is the common ground that we both agree on. However, it is because I favor them that I am opposed to teacher unions. Education and the future of America should not be hijacked by special interests aimed at helping adults rather than students. To state that anti-union is anti-teacher is like saying being in favor of antitrust law is anti-business.

Protecting Teachers

My opponent first claims that teachers need protection. This is a false claim. Here’s why a school board would be unwilling to fire a teacher haphazardly:

First, the process of searching and finding a teacher is a lengthy and expense process. To find a teacher one has to look over many applications, set up interviews, and pay for advertising the job. Once the teacher is hired, one has to pay for teacher orientation, and file paper work for the new employee.

Second off, it’s risky business to fire a teacher that is competent and replace him or her with a teacher that has the potential to be incompetent. In the hiring process, even If one thoroughly looks over credentials, there is still a great possibility that the applicant is incompetent. So as long as the teacher has a decent level of competency, it is much better for the school to keep the teacher then to fire the teacher and risk a new teacher.

Third, If a school or school district is known to have a high turnover rate, then it’s unlikely that competent teachers will apply there. Therefore a school district is unlikely to do this.

Employees in the private sector do not need to be protected, in which 93.1% of employees in the private sector are not part of unions. Even in the public sector, 63.8% of employees are not unionized.

However, it should be noted that If incompetent teachers are not fired, then it means that recent college graduates and those seeking a teacher position that are component are unable to do so.

The problem is that teachers are protected too much. It is nearly impossible to fire a teacher once he or she receives tenure. In New York City, a “rubber room” was creates specifically designed to pay bad teachers to do nothing. Literally, teachers that got in trouble for sexual misconduct, unwilling to follow the curriculum, or abusiveness were just sent to a building to do what they wanted with pay and benefits[1].

Teachers receive more job security than any other occupation. There is no reason for this. Protecting bad teachers simply hurt the schools. Students do not learn what they need to. Often times, teachers need to review material that should have been learned previous years, but an incompetent teacher simply did not teach the material. This drags everyone down. Education is too important for bad teachers to recieve protection. According to this video, If just the bottom 6-10 percent of all teachers were eliminated, then American education would be at the level of Finland, a nation with top education.(watch 1:08 onward).

Past Practices

If I am correct, my opponent’s main argument here is that teachers have the right to collective bargaining because it is not specifically prohibited in state and local law.

This argument fails for many reasons. For one, this debate framework is based on moral principles not legal principals. I specially stated that I was using an Unitarianism framework. This is a basic appeal to authority argument, using the law as a legit authority. It would equivalent to if this was the year 1940 in Nazi, Germany for me to argue that one should not hide Jews from the government because it is against the law.

Second, this argument easily fails once a law is introduced to bar teachers from collective right bargaining.


Other Legal Issues

I will repeat my argument that I stated earlier. Legal issues should not be a major consideration since laws can be changed, and are not a moral authority.

My opponent states that teachers should receive collective bargaining rights since other public employees like firefighters, police, etc. also maintain the right.

Just because other public employees engage in collective bargaining does not make it morally right.

This is analogous stating that a murderer should not be locked in jail since other murders get away with it scot free.

I am against collective bargaining in the public sector. I would remove the collective bargaining rights of firefighters and other public employees, however this debate is specifically about teachers.

In terms of the argument that the NLRA does not cover public employees, there are also many checks that exist in the private sector that reduce the power of unions while these checks do not exist in the public sector.

It should also be noted that many public employees can not engage in specific collective bargaining tactics. For example, police officers are not allowed to go on strike. So it is not unreasonable to remove teacher’s rights to collective bargaining.

Specialization and Demands

My opponent states that since teachers invest in a college education to obtain a teaching degree, that he or she should be protected. I will explain the problem with this.

There is no reason to suspect that teacher unions increase teacher employment. If you protect bad teachers you can’t let potentially good teachers enter the market. So this argument actually works in my favor, since college graduates spend many years studying the field and get into debt, only to find that they can’t get a job because there are no vacancies. It’s also another point in my favor that teacher unions increase the salary and benefts of teachers, creating a surplus of teacher applicants and increasing the number of those who will invest in a teaching degree but will not be able to find a teaching career.

Many other jobs that require more specialization are less protected. For example, Doctors and Lawyers have to spend much more years and tuition to practice in the field. However, neither doctors nor lawyers are unionized. One out of every 57 doctor will lose their medical license and one out of 97 lawyers will lose their license to practice law. Remember, this is losing their license to practice, not just getting fired, the latter a far less severe punishment. For teachers, 1 in every 1000 teacher is fired after tenure for performance based reasons [2].

However, the question is: should people be protected from the financial risks they make? No. Society should not bare the risks of an individul's choice. An entrepreneur that decides to start a new business must bear the risks as well. Consumers should not be forced to buy the product and the business should not be protected. If new technology automates jobs, then there’s no reason these jobs should be protected.

Once one gets into the mindset that jobs must be protected in order to save them from mal-investments, economic growth, consumer choice and efficiency cannot be maintained. Jobs will always exist through this creative destructive process; they will just be reallocated to different fields.

Even If a college graduate is unable to find a teacher career, a college degree is versatile and many people enter careers outside of their specialization.

Conclusion:

I have refuted the legal claims and protectionism claims my opponent has made. I look forward to my opponents response to my arguments.

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medic0506

Con

I thank Dark for his argument, and will now attempt to chip away at his opening.


"I will use the moral framework of utilitarianism."

I would argue that utilitarianism is self-contradictory, and immoral. It purports to protect the well being of society but, in practice, it forces the morality of some to govern all. Society includes all of us, but who benefits from allowing my opponent's morals and values to rule our country?? Only my opponent, and those with a similar ideology benefit. To allow a few to decide what is best for all, based on their own values, while ignoring the values of others seems immoral. How can this be what's "best for society"??

I would be remiss if I didn't admit that utilitarianism, to a degree, is the basis of our legal system, but there's another principle at play, within that system, that was much more prevalent on the minds of our founding fathers. My opponent has the right to protest the status quo and push for change, because of that principle. It's because of that principle that I argue that teachers should keep their right to unionize, and have collective bargaining. That principle was the guiding ideology, as the framers of our constitution hashed out the final language. That principle is "Individual Rights". The rights of an individual, in a free society, to make decisions for themselves is the very reason that our founding fathers knowingly, and intentionally, tried to limit the power and size, of the government(1). Our constitution tries to protect individuals from the "tyranny of the majority", but if not kept in check, that tyranny is exactly what utilitarianism brings to the table.

Another problem with the use of utilitarianism is the fact that my opponent wants to use it as grounds for fighting against unions, in general, but his ideology demands an "all or none" approach. It doesn't leave enough flexibility to come to some common ground, a way in which many of the ends he seeks can be realized, while still respecting the rights of workers to make their own decisions. It simply assumes that there can be no middle ground, and refuses to allow it. That is the problem with the ideological hard-liners on both the left, and right. This "my way or the highway" approach to governing should be rejected by all of us because it is usually ineffective, polarizing, and unnecessarily unfair to it's victims. There IS a sensible middle ground on this union issue, and when there IS a middle ground, utilitarianism need not be invoked. That is what's best for society.

My opponent concedes that teachers will be harmed, but claims that collective bargaining has little value for teachers, and removing it is "best for society". My wife is an English/Literature teacher, she has two Master's degrees and a Bachelor's in Adult Ed. She has taught at every level, including a prison education program. Over her 23 year career, she has worked both union and non-union jobs. Although non-union now, she realizes the importance of collective bargaining rights, and the positives those rights have for ALL teachers, not just union. Unions strive to raise the standard of living for workers, and in doing so they also indirectly effect non-union workers in a positive way. The fear that their employees will unionize inspires employers to make changes that are beneficial to the employees, who are the backbone of their organization. This raises the standard of living, and brings dignity and financial stability to employees, who are otherwise at the mercy of their employers. Those on the far right, who I usually side with, seek to remove this positive force. That puts employees back at the mercy of employers. If the employer wants a new yacht, what's to stop him from simply cutting pay, increasing his profit margin, thereby justifying a huge raise or bonus for himself?? Removing unions, and bargaining rights, effectively lowers the standard of living for both union, and non-union employees. How is that best for society??

A big part of my opponent's argument is based on him wanting education to be privatized, instead he is "coerced" into having to pay taxes to help pay for education. That seems selfish to me. People were coerced into paying taxes for his education, but now it's time to return the favor and he doesn't like it. That illustrates the nature of humans to be greedy, and that's the reason that teachers don't want such a vital service, education, turned over into the hands of corporations who's main goal is financial benefit. Teachers unions aren't the only ones not wanting that. My opponent has a right to fight for that change, if he wishes, but is it fair for him to take away the rights of others who oppose him, so that his ends become easier to attain?? I say no, but that's exactly what my opponent advocates.

Do we need education reform?? Do we need to make the system more financially efficient?? Absolutely, on both counts, but a common sense way of accomplishing that can be found without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. That answer begins with identifying the real problems rather than using the teachers as pawns for political gain.

Those on the anti-union side have created a witch hunt against "bad teachers". What about the nearly four million other teachers, who serve the public well as educators for our kids?? They watch the coverage of bad teachers, and are more ashamed than the rest of us, yet they go to school the next day and work hard, focusing on what they got into education for, the kids. The problem with my opponents' argument against tenure, in this debate, is that tenure and dismissal proceedings are a matter of state law, not the subject of collective bargaining. Lawmakers made firing teachers, and the process, intentionally slow and cumbersome to discourage firings for personal and political reasons. The union's only role in tenure, is that it's required by law to represent it's members during the process. Perhaps the "rubber room" video should be shown to my opponents state lawmakers instead of being used to prejudice the public against unions. Here is a quote from the page linked below(2).

"Each state provides laws governing education agencies, hiring and termination of teachers, tenure of teachers, and similar laws.

Subjectivity and cronyism are reasons that unions oppose the merit pay system. Another reason is, as I mentioned in my opening, teachers are at the mercy of the quality of their students. They can, and do, reach many difficult kids, but they are not miracle workers. I ask you, how would you feel if your pay was decided by how well your co-workers did??

On the pay issue, perhaps my opponent needs to speak to teachers, instead of John Stossel. You can't figure an hour-by-hour comparison unless you factor in ALL the hours that teachers put in. He bases his figures on the school day, but doesn't factor in all the hours at home and weekends, grading papers, preparing lesson plans, private tutoring, on the phone with parents trying to find a way to reach a difficult student, spending 800-1000 dollars out-of-pocket for supplies for kids that can't afford them, etc. They usually spend 1-2 weeks after the school year in meetings, packing their rooms, etc., then 1-2 weeks before the start of the year in meetings, and unpacking, prep, etc. This is one of the problems with people who know so little being given such a big voice over people who are actually trained, and have years of experience doing. They don't show the public the whole story, just their own spin.

I contest the other parts of his argument, but am out of space so I'll deal with them in round 3.

1. http://www.usconstitution.net...
2. http://www.enotes.com...
Debate Round No. 2
darkkermit

Pro

Introduction:

I thank my opponent for his response. In my opening argument I explained that teacher unions have strong political power and the ability to fire a teacher is quite difficultbdue to teacher unions. He has not refuted these claims. It would also be unfair to refute them in Round 3, since this is the last round I will defend my thesis.

However he attacks the moral framework of utilitarinism (w/out providing an alternative framework), believes unions have value, and does not believe teacher unions are to blame for education reform. I refute this.


Utilitarianism:

CON makes many incorrect assumptions about utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is simply maximization of happiness. It is not an arbitrary morality system such as ‘prostitution is wrong’. It does not benefit just the few, but seeks to bring happiness to many.

CON believes that “it forces the morality of some to govern all” No. Utilitarianism can be obtained by volunteer transactions. Let’s say I have 100 sandwiches and you have 100 water bottles. With the initial distribution of goods, I will die of thirst and you will die of hunger. However, if we trade so that the final distribution is that we both have 50 sandwiches and 50 water bottles, we are both better off, a utilitarian arrangement is made, and there is no need of centralized planners. In fact economists have a term for this. Pareto efficiency, all persons are made better without anyone else worse off. There is also a term known as Kaldor-Hicks efficiency in which a policy or new technology might benefit some and harm others; however the wealth created from the policy or technology is so immense that the wealth can in theory compensate those harmed.

My policy is mathematically proven to be Kaldor-Hicks efficient. I will not go into the mathematical technicality of it since it will be too long to explain. The proof is shown under efficiency and monopolies in this article[1]. I will give a more intuitive example. A teacher union is basically a monopoly on the supply of a labor. One can obvious see why this is a problem, If for example, all the telecommunication companies decide to form a monopoly, the price of cell phones would skyrocket and would be taking wealth away from consumers. The same applies to unions.

Also, teacher unions are rent-seekers, obtaining perks without creating actual value. They are able to do this because taxpayer money is obtained not via voluntary action but by force. Getting something for nothing is obviously not a Kaldor-Hicks improvement and a misallocation of resources.

CON other contention is that utilitarianism creates ‘tyranny of the majority’. No, A ‘tyranny of the majority’ occurs if a majority creates a policy that benefits the majority a little, but harms the majority quite a bit. For example, a policy that allows discrimination is indeed a ‘tyranny of the majority’ yet not utilitarianism. Hence why limited government is ideal and we are given certain inalienable rights such as life, liberty, and property. Ironically, CON agrees that limited government is good, yet collective bargaining in the state sector expands government. Furthermore, collective bargaining is not recognizes as an individual right, since collective bargaining would not exist without government intervention. People are forced to pay dues in unions. Furthermore, employers cannot fire an employee for joining a union or cannot design a contract that states an employee cannot join a union, even if voluntarily. This goes against individual liberty.

CON accuses me of using an ‘all or nothing’ approach. What does that even mean? Why should there be a middle ground? That’s like me arguing that ‘Blacks should not be slaves’, and accusing me of taking an all-or-nothing approach. Or does he mean we should increase welfare of the nation but only increase it by a little bit? Why not maximize it? He is committing the argument to moderation fallacy [2]

The Value of Unions:

CON uses anecdotal evidence about his wife, which should be discarded since it is bias and can be faked.

CON makes a fallacy that an employer can simply cut back wages to increase profit margins and lower the standard of living for an employee without unions. This is false. To see why, let’s give an example. Let’s say there are two companies, A and B. Company A can hire employees less than their productivity and make a bunch of profits. However, Company B can also hire employees at a higher wage than Company A, still making a bunch of profits, and employees flock to Company B instead of A. This process continues until both companies hire employees at the level of their productivity. With this process, Supply and demand determines the salary of labor. The real salary of labor can only increase if supply of labor decreases or demand of labor increases. Labor unions can achieve this by restricting the amount of workers or using political power to increase demand for their product.

Employers cannot simply lower wages at whim, since labor can find other areas of work or even start their own companies. Many labor contracts even disallow the employer from lower wages.

If my opponent is still not convinced, I can show empirical evidence that labor unions do not increase standard of livings. The Gilded Age is known as the time in which America has the greatest amount of economic development, in which real wages dramatically increased.[3] Wages and wealth in America was greater than wages in Europe, even though Europe was much more unionized. This was possible because trade unions do not grow the economy. Only through investment in capital and technology can labor become more productive, and thus increase standard of living. Labor unions are only successful through strategies that are not pareto optimal, as explained earlier.

Educational Reform:

CON strawmans me, stating that I am selfish for not wanting to pay for education. This is incorrect, I see the value of “free” education. However, why should one pay more for education without improvements in it?

CON and I both want educational reform. However, as I demonstrated, teacher unions block these reforms. The best way to create reform is to get rid of the source blocking it, teacher unions. My opponent wants to blame lawmakers, however this is like blaming an employer for increasing the salary of union workers, when the employer did everything in their power to stop it. Sure, the lawmakers and employers were the ones that made the final decisions, yet it is not as if the union had no play. I have shown how teacher unions have used political power to their advantage that my opponent has not refuted. CON says that the process of firing teacher is slow due to political reasons however the political reasons are because of teacher unions.[4]

Next, CON states that merit pay is too subjective. Perhaps, there is some subjectivism, however is that better than a system that awards seniority over merit? This is almost as absurd as stating that students should not be graded because it is too subjective. Many of the problems of merit pay can be tweaked, for example judging student performance before and after the school year.


Teacher Pay:

The information about teacher pay comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, not John Stossel. If teacher pay is too low, why was there a surplus of teacher applicants during an economic boom?

Most professions have to work extended hours, go to meetings, and bring their work home just like teachers. Teachers can also come up with solutions to work more efficiently and avoid working at home such as showing educational films in class, giving work in class, sharing lesson plans and exam formats between other teachers and other sources. Exams that are multiple choices are easily graded. The amount of hours a teacher works outside of the school hours is up to how much effort the teacher wants to put into teaching.

http://tinyurl.com... [1]

http://tinyurl.com... [2]

http://tinyurl.com... [3]

http://tinyurl.com... [4]

medic0506

Con

Thanks to Darkkermit for his argument. I’m now going to pick up where I left off in refutation.

My opponent speaks of increasing efficiency in education by removing collective bargaining. He hasn’t shown though, that bargaining itself, is responsible for the inefficiencies. I’ve seen no fix so far that warrants an intrusion on the rights of teachers to make choices about their representation.

Finances are a consideration, but school districts are NOT able to raise taxes. They can ask for an increase in the budget, but are unlikely to see any change, other than negative, when times are bad. A union can not “raise the price of it’s labor”, it can only ask for that raise in negotiations. One of the biggest expenses in any industry is labor costs. That will not change by removing bargaining. Common sense dictates that making a profession less financially secure, and denying rights based on public sentiment will dissuade people from joining the profession. This will lead to having to keep bad teachers, not because of the union, but out of necessity. We’re going to get what we pay for.

My opponent talks about differences between public and private sector bargaining, and percentage of union workers. Those things are largely irrelevant to the resolution. It should be noted that the decrease in private sector union members coincides with the loss of middle-class manufacturing jobs, and also an increase in worker protection mandated by law. Many things workers enjoy today, OSHA safety regulations, 40-hour work week, overtime pay, vacations, FMLA and military leave, etc., can be attributed to the struggles of unions. Those benefits aren’t only given to union workers though, thus my contention that unions affect ALL workers in a good way. Unions act as a check and balance system, the only options are to keep them, or depend on increased governmental regulation. Below is an excerpt from a very interesting, and relevant article that all should read.(4)

"
Legislated labor protections are sometimes considered alternatives to collective bargaining in the workplace, but the fact of the matter is that a top-down strategy of legislating protections may not be influential unless there is also an effective voice and intermediary for workers at the workplace—unions. In all of the research surveyed, no institutional factor appears as capable as unions of acting in workers' interests (Weil 2003). Labor legislation and unionization are best thought of as complements, not substitutes."

He argues against education being a public service, but it is what it is. He is free to fight for change, but in the meantime, his disagreement with the system does not warrant punishing teachers. They have a right to fight against that change, just as he does to fight for it.

Teacher strikes are becoming a thing of the past. Many states are passing no-strike laws.
Though pro-union, I agree with this trend, and so do many teachers(1). I do not defend teacher's strikes, and refer back to my argument about finding a middle ground and not allowing the hard-liners, on either side, to be in complete control. There is a middle ground, and many states are finding it, where strikes are concerned.

My opponent keeps alluding to difficulty in firing teachers. I've shown that tenure and dismissal is set by the states, not the collective bargaining process, and should not be part of this debate. These videos and articles do nothing but attempt to prejudice the reader, and distract from the issues. They are highly prejudicial, and should not be given weight in the decision. They are evidence of the highly political nature of my opponents position.

Introduction

Sorry that my opponent resents my statement. Perhaps if the status quo were being challenged for the right reasons, and teachers weren’t scapegoats for the anti-union movement, I might be more receptive to his cause. With due respect, having a financial stake in something does not make us experts in what the real problems are in that system. Teachers are there everyday, in the classroom, they know what the problems are, they are the experts, not us. If my opponent valued teachers, as he claimed, he would respect that fact. He would also respect their ability to know what they need, and allow them to make choices for themselves, rather than protest against them under the guise of protecting them. The only “hijacking” being done, is that of their individual rights and freedom of association.

Protection

My opponent’s argument seems to me to be a clear impact turn. First he argues that it’s too hard to fire a teacher, but here he has presented evidence as to why it SHOULD be hard. This argument shows why it is not in the best interest of education, or the public, to fire teachers except in clearly egregious cases. Also, I restate that tenure is usually a matter of law, not bargaining.

What if the bottom 6-10% of teachers are those in the most difficult schools, with the most difficult students?? Does that mean that they should be fired just to make room for unproven college grads?? Of course not, that’s absurd and unless they can be shown to be deserving of termination, my opponent’s above argument is why it’s in no one’s best interest.

My opponent has yet to address the issue of teachers being at the mercy of the quality of students.

I’ll say again that teachers are the only ones who know what protections they need. For someone who isn’t a teacher to claim to know what workplace issues they face, and need help with is absurd. Unions provide many protections for the rights of teachers, not just disciplinary issues.

Past Practice

There is no pre-set framework that I must abide by in this debate. My opponent is free to make whatever arguments he wishes, as am I. We could not do justice to a debate on this subject if we did not consider legal issues.

Past practice means that if an employer gives a right to workers, and it is clearly understood by both parties, they cannot just arbitrarily remove that right without due process. Creating a mob mentality and attacking the rights of a group without due process is immoral. As I said this is a case-by-case issue, applicable in some, not so in others, depending on laws in that state.

When laws are passed banning the right, then we have a different discussion. Until then legal issues must be considered.

Other Legal Issues

My opponent seems to be injecting his morals here, but what makes his morals the authority that all should be bound by?? He doesn't like unions, that's fine, he has the right not to join one. Yet he's in favor of taking away another's right to decide for themself. Why is that the correct moral position??

I maintain that if one group of public employees has a right, it is discriminatory to remove the right from another group. The strike issue has been addressed.


The same checks exist in the public sector. ALL employees are bound by budgets, whether they're public or private sector.

Specialization

It is not the job of unions to create jobs, to use that as an argument them is misleading.

Doctors and lawyers usually work for themselves, under their own license. There are many organizations that represent the interests of these professions. The AMA (2), APA, the Bar Association (3), to name a few. Are they politically active?? Yes. Do doctors and lawyers have a right to have a voice in our political system, where it affects their profession?? Yes, and so do teachers.

“Society should not bare the risks of an individul's choice”- Society demands specialized degrees for this service to the public, those who comply should be rewarded, not penalized and raked over the coals just because there are a few bad teachers.

1. http://www.nysdeputy.org...
2. http://www.ama-assn.org...?
3. http://www.americanbar.org...
4. http://www.epi.org...
Debate Round No. 3
darkkermit

Pro

I thank my opponent for the debate.


CON falsely claims that I have not shown that collective bargaining are responsible for education inefficiency. I have shown multiple reasons why collective bargaining is inefficient. It is mathematically proven to be inefficient based on the theory of monopolies. It is also responsible for inefficiency by blocking education reform.


CON states that school districts cannot raise taxes. However teacher unions finance politicians in exchange the politician raises taxes, which would allow increasing the budget. AFT has donated millions of dollars in campaign contributions.


However, teacher unions do increase the size of the school budget. CON even states that the biggest expense is labor. Yet teacher unions are directly responsible for the high cost of labor since collective bargaining raises that cost. As I already showed, teachers are paid more than psychologists, and public teachers receive much higher salaries then private nonunionized teachers.


CON states that removing collective bargaining rights will create bad teachers since they will get paid less. First, If a teacher cannot be fired, then the teacher will have less of a financial incentive to teach well. Second, If falling salaries create poor teachers, then the school district will increase teacher salary. No unions required. Privatized schools do better than public schools, yet pay teachers less and do not unionize teachers.


CON dismisses the difference between public and private sector bargaining, but does not give an explanation why even though I showed why public sector bargaining is quite different and more dangerous to economic liberty than private sector bargaining. Rejecting an argument arbitrary is not a form of argumentation.


CON states unions are responsible for many government worker regulations, yet there is no proof that either unions are responsible or that the regulations are good.


OSHA safety regulation has done nothing to increase safety, and the rate of reduction in workplace fatalities has not decreased due to OSHA [1]. Mandating a 40-hour work week is also pointless. People choose work based on how much he or she is willing to work. Hence, this is why part-time jobs exists.


The market works so that workers salaries and working conditions improve as capital resources and technology improves, and no unions or government intervention is needed. Henry Ford decided to pay his workers a higher salary, give them less hours of work, and created a sociological department to improve workers lives. Henry Ford did not do this out of generosity, because he wanted healthy workers and less turnovers. He was actually quite anti-union as well.

CON’s only rebuttal to education being a public service is that ‘It is what it is’ and even confirms that teacher unions are responsible. What he is rebutting is wrong, since I favor school choice. School choice is what makes US universities the best in the world. CON argues against a program proven to work that the teacher union blocks.

CON states that tenure and dismissal is set through the states and should be part of the debate. This is wrong. His own source shows that teacher unions play a part in tenure.


“The following are some of the matters that are often the subject of this bargaining: Tenure”[2]

Also: When school attendant, Michelle Rhee proposed a voluntarily two-tier track to either have teachers have tenure or give teachers the potential to earn as much as $140,00 per year, the teacher union needed to vote on the proposal. Why are they voting if they have no say? [3]

Introduction:

CON is using ad homeinum attacks to discredit me. He says that the status quo is not being challenged for the right reasons. I just provided arguments and reasons in this debate to explain the problem. And somehow I should be discredit since I have a financial incentive, yet somehow teachers do not have a financial incentive to keep the status quo. Really?

Also CON accuses me of not being an expert and should listen to the teachers, yet what about the school attendances that try to push education reform yet fail? Isn’t the school attendant the expert in education? Why aren’t the teacher unions listening to them? What about the teacher in the video I showed that spoke out against the teacher unions? Con is trying to discredit me without providing any arguments. This is a foul debate tactic.

Protection:


CON states that this is a clear turn, without actually citing why it should be a turn. Does he want teachers that commit sexual misconduct, abusiveness, and do not follow the curriculum? Extend arguments that teachers do not need to be protected due to internal system that protect teachers.

CON keeps on going on the fact that teachers are at the mercy of the students. This is like stating that doctors are at the mercy of their patient. Everyone realizes that a patient dying from terminal cancer is different from a patient dying from a broken arm. Everyone knows that teaching students that are not educated to begin with is difficult. I already explained that teacher performance can be evaluated by measuring the performance of students before and after the school year.

CON then tries to attack my claims, stating that I’m not a teacher. So what? Does he seriously believe that somehow private teachers and lawyers attract much more bad performers then public teachers, and that’s why the teacher firing rate is so low? Give me a break. I was a high school student a few years back with good grades. There were some really bad teachers out there.


Past Practice


Resolution: The collective bargaining rights of teachers should be removed

Implementation: Create a law that removes the collective bargaining rights of teachers

There, refuted.


Other Legal Issues



Create a law that removes collective bargaining rights of state employees. There, refuted.


As explained earlier, state budgets can easily be increased through taxation obtained through coercion. The product in the public sector does not need to be demanded unlike products in the private sector. If you have a relentless private union who refuses to compromise, the company goes bankrupt. If you have a relentless public union who refuses to compromise, the government raises taxes or increases the debt. Teacher unions and other public unions pay off politicians to raise taxes or increase the debt in order to finance their budgets.

Specialization

CON states that it is not the job of the union to create jobs. So this argument is nonsense, since a teacher is still taking a huge risk since a job cannot be guaranteed. In fact, based on my previous analysis, unions make the risks greater.

The AMA and bar association are quite different from AFT since lawyers and medical professions lose their license much more frequently then teachers, do not contribute any campaign money to politicians, and are used to improve the profession. Go on to the AMA and bar association and you’ll find published peer reviewed journals, ways to improve oneself professionally. Go on AFT and you’ll find almost none of that.

CON uses the excuse for lawyers and doctors that many of them work individually. Note that many doctors work at hospitals, and many lawyers work at law firms and corporations, yet are not unionized. Also note that a teacher can work independently as a tutor.

CON still not explain why teachers should be “protected” due to financial risks, but not others.

Conclusion:

CON fails to defend his arguments and instead uses ad homenium attacks and appeal to (false) athority arguments isntead of actually takig on my arguments. I look forward to the final round.

http://www.coyoteblog.com...[1]


http://www.enotes.com...[2]


http://teachersunionexposed.com...[3]

Debate Round No. 4
darkkermit

Pro

That's too bad and bit surpised. I was looking forward to the last few rounds.

Vote PRO.
medic0506

Con

Congrats, good luck. Vote Pro
Debate Round No. 5
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by medic0506 5 years ago
medic0506
For the record, I forfeited this debate, but I don't concede that his arguments are winners.
Posted by medic0506 5 years ago
medic0506
Why is round 3 the last round you're going to defend??
Posted by medic0506 5 years ago
medic0506
We discussed this issue back in July when we were going to debate this topic. It takes more room to argue against than it does to make a claim. If you're going to bring up numerous topics I have to be allowed some degree of flexibility. Otherwise you can win a debate based just on volume of issues raised. I don't see why it's unfair to you that they are in round 3. If you address my claims, I don't care what round you do it in.
Posted by darkkermit 5 years ago
darkkermit
Medic, in Round 3 you are refuting my claims made in Round 2, not Round 1. The issues that you didn't have room to discuss are largely in Round 2 and Round 3 anyways. However it is unfair to argue directly against arguments made in Round 1 in Round 3.
Posted by darkkermit 5 years ago
darkkermit
hey, at least this is going much faster than Freeman's tournament
Posted by Tim_Spin 5 years ago
Tim_Spin
Wow. OMG and iddebater's debate is over and you guys are just starting the second round. Weird.
Posted by darkkermit 5 years ago
darkkermit
I should state that [2] and [4] are video sources.
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Tim_Spin
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