Friday, March 25, 2011

On The 100Th Aniversary Of The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire - Bloomberg Continues His Attacks On The Teachers Union With A New Commerical .

This is the 100Th Anniversary of the Triangle Fire that killed 146 employees, mostly teenage Jewish and Italian girls. This horrific event was very much responsible for the Labor Laws and the "collective bargaining" that we have today. Even Tammany Hall had to support the rise of Labor Unions in the wake of the terrible fire and loss of life. However, the teachers union now finds itself in the cross hairs of Michael Bloomberg's attempt to bypass Civil Service Law and destroy "collective bargaining" rights when it comes to the teachers union. The Mayor4Life has made a strong effort in destroying the Teachers' union by buying off the Republican Senate when he allegedly donated $660,000 for the Republicans to take back the Senate and they did. To thank Bloomberg for his support they passed an alternative to "last in, first out" LIFO for teachers that eliminated seniority rights and would give the City the right to fire (not layoff) any teacher the DOE could not legitimately fire. The phrase in Bloomberg's Bill is as follows.

"When schools remove positions for any reason, absent a citywide layoff condition, the sole basis for such decisions will not be employee length of service."

Even the Republican Senate realized what this meant after the fact and forced the City to remove the passage in their revised plan which was still "dead on arrival" since the Assembly and the Governor realized that it violated the "collective bargaining" rights of the union. Now on the 100Th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the Mayor, using his own money, has an anti-union (mostly anti-teacher) commercial that wants to reduce union rights.

For whatever reason the Mayor4Life has continually attacked the Teachers' Union and scapegoated senior teachers. He has refused to give the Teachers' Union the prevailing "City Pattern" that all other unions received. He has gone so far as saying the teaching experience and class size are irrelevant to student learning which made even his education reformer friends cringe as they backed away from supporting that statement. Now he put in an unqualified friend of his, Cathie Black, to be Chancellor which was universally panned by educators and even by the General Public with a 17% approval rating.

Now with the 100Th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire we see the Mayor4Life doing his best to destroy the careers of senior teachers because of the money and to fatally weaken the once powerful teachers' union to the point of irrelevance.

I guess we are seeing History repeating itself as Bloomberg attacks the City Unions and in particular the Teachers' Union as he continues his quest to eliminate senior teachers because of the money not what is best for the children. It is what it is, plain old union bashing that goes back 100 years and more. The more things change the more they stay the same and Bloomberg is trying to rollback the clock to the time of the Triangle Shirtwaist Facctory Fire when Labor Laws were weak or nonexistent.


Anonymous said...

OK - I understand that what Bloomberg is doing to the Union is wrong! I agree with and support Union rights. BUT you can't truly compare today's working conditions with the working conditions of 100 years ago.

Unions 100 years ago were formed to fight for worker safety and to fight against child labor. Today's unions fight for job security, higher wages and better benefits. Job security, higher wages and better benefits are all great things to fight for but those certainly can not be compared to fighting to your your physical safety.

Teachers are not in physical danger* at work and schools are not employing children. Today's union is fighting the good fight but society as a hole has come a long way since the triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. In my opinion your arguments are weakened when you make unrealistic comparisons.

*Please no one respond saying you are in physical danger because students bringing in weapons or because of the neighborhood your school is in. That is not the same type of physical threat as employees of 100 years ago.

Chaz said...


Of course you can't compare the two. However, I am pointing out Bloomberg's attack on the union is what we have fought for in the last 100 yearsstarting with the tragedy.

Bloomberg's bill is to eliminate seniority and fire senior teachers on arbitrary and capricious rounds. If that is not an attack on member rights, what is?