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Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Old 04-29-10, 12:01 PM
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Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

I voted "yes."

What do you think?


http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/0...volunteer.html

Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Labor: Some tasks held off limits under contract

By DEBBIE CAFAZZO; Staff writer

04/29/10 8:09 am

Volunteers at a weekend work party at Fawcett Elementary School in East Tacoma came prepared to get their hands dirty.

But some say they felt like they were working with one grubby hand tied behind their backs last weekend due to school district and union rules.

“There was a lot of work that could have been done, but wasn’t,” said Ron Joslin, whose daughter is a third-grader at the school.

He and other parents complain that district officials scaled back the scope of work planned by several dozen parents working with more than 100 volunteers from Comcast.

“Somebody from the school district said it would take away union jobs,” said Tiesha Williams, one of the parents who turned out Saturday. District and union officials acknowledge that the project list was narrowed at their request. But they say there are good reasons.

Tacoma Public Schools spokesman Dan Voelpel said the district appreciates volunteer efforts to help make schools better, but there’s a protocol for volunteer cleanups. First, volunteers must fill out a form detailing what the work party plans to do.

“Our buildings and grounds supervisory staff need to review it to make sure that what people want to do is safe and up to school standards,” Voelpel said. “And we have to, by union contract, notify the unions affected. They can determine if the work being performed substantially takes away from union labor. They can object to the work proposed.”

Mark Martinez, executive secretary for the Pierce County Building and Construction Trades Council, put it this way: “Sometimes people don’t appreciate our craft.”

His union represents an estimated 60 Tacoma schools employees.

Martinez said issues can include things like prep work for areas to be painted or the use of mechanical equipment that’s better suited to full-time employees. And he said it’s his job to ensure that volunteers don’t supplant his members’ livelihoods.

Parents say one of the vetoed Fawcett projects would have removed overgrown bushes that block views of the street from the school.

School employees can’t see who is approaching the building. And that worries parents.

The overgrowth also interferes with drivers pulling in and out of school property. Joslin said the last time the bushes were trimmed back – by parents – was a year ago.

“If it’s somebody’s job, then they’re paying them to do nothing because it hasn’t been done,” he added.

Other proposed projects that didn’t happen include painting a Fawcett Falcons mascot on a school wall and spreading 40 yards of beauty bark on school playgrounds and elsewhere.

Two days before the volunteers were scheduled to go to work, school and union officials met to hammer out which projects would be approved.

Comcast spokesman Walter Neary said his group had no objection to following school district rules.

“This is volunteering,” he said. “It’s supposed to be collaborative and cooperative.”

More than 2,000 Comcast employees, who were part of a company effort dubbed Comcast Cares, helped spruce up schools around the state Saturday. Comcast Cares also turned out to work at Puyallup High School. Asked if similar issues arose there, Neary said he didn’t know what kind of decision-making process was used.

Martinez said the bush removal at Fawcett would have required the use of specialized equipment that was better handled by school employees. Fawcett Principal Zeek Edmond said a request to remove the bushes has been submitted to the school district.

Voelpel said school maintenance representatives expressed concern about the proposed painting projects, which included not only the mascot but also some painting of classrooms and basketball backboards.

He said part of their concern arose due to union contracts and part stemmed from past experiences at other schools in which volunteer paint jobs had to be re-done.

He also said school maintenance workers asked the volunteers to scale back the amount of beauty bark applied because too much bark can wash onto sidewalks during heavy rains.

While some parents were disappointed they weren’t allowed to accomplish more Saturday, nearly everyone interviewed for this story felt good about what they did.

They spread beauty bark and gravel. They planted a tree in memory of a school employee who died over the summer. Comcast donated new nets for playground basketball hoops and new tetherball equipment.

All in all, Fawcett looks better as a result of the volunteers’ hard work.
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Old 04-29-10, 12:09 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

The parents should cut down the bushes in the middle of the night.
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Old 04-29-10, 12:10 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

This is the least of the problems in Tacoma, so I don't care.
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Old 04-29-10, 12:13 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post
But to just waltz in and take contracted work from others? They can suck it, if that's what they intend on doing. I mean, come on...what if YOUR boss decided to allow "volunteers" to come in and do YOUR job this weekend, regardless of what you do for a living? Contracts & unions or not, that's YOUR job. Don't let your boss piss it away through "volunteerism". And if the contracted employess aren't doing their jobs? That's a different ball of wax that has absolutely NO relevance in this debate.
Well it's not "regardless of what [I] do for a living" - some jobs can be done by volunteers, others cannot. If my boss brought some volunteers in to do my job over the weekend he'd be awfully disappointed with the results.
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Old 04-29-10, 12:17 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
This is the least of the problems in Tacoma, so I don't care.
The bigger problem being the Tacomans. Or is it Tacomen?
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Old 04-29-10, 12:18 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Originally Posted by Birrman54 View Post
If my boss brought some volunteers in to do my job over the weekend he'd be awfully disappointed with the results.
Comparatively disappointed.
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Old 04-29-10, 12:18 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Farrah Fawcett already has a school named after her? cool!
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Old 04-29-10, 12:18 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Originally Posted by Birrman54 View Post
Well it's not "regardless of what [I] do for a living" - some jobs can be done by volunteers, others cannot. If my boss brought some volunteers in to do my job over the weekend he'd be awfully disappointed with the results.
Exactly. If there is someone out there willing to do my job for free and capable of doing it to a level of quality that my boss is happy with, then why should I be getting paid to do it?
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Old 04-29-10, 12:20 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
Comparatively disappointed.
lol fair enough
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Old 04-29-10, 12:24 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Originally Posted by Thor Simpson View Post
The bigger problem being the Tacomans. Or is it Tacomen?
Tacomi
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Old 04-29-10, 01:20 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

The good thing is stories like this will continue to make unions look bad, and hopefully they will go away one day. And no doubt the union would charge a couple hundred dollars to pull up a bush.

With the budget issues facing schools, the parents were just trying to get some things done that otherwise wouldn't have been. Thanks union.
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Old 04-29-10, 01:20 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post
If you have a contract, you'd be a friggin' FOOL to let "someone" do your job for free.
You'd probably be a bigger fool if someone could do your job for free....

Last edited by cpgator; 04-29-10 at 01:23 PM.
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Old 04-29-10, 01:29 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post
Only if I allowed them to do it. After all, I have a contract.
It is parents volunteering to help with the upkeep of their kids school. I could understand you getting our panties in a wad if the school hired some company to come in so they wouldn't have to the the union's prices. But this was parents trying to help out their school. Only a union could find something wrong with that.
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Old 04-29-10, 01:31 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

It seems like making such a public fuss that will cast your union in a negative light might do more harm to future contracts than the lost work that might come from letting the volunteers do these tasks right now. Since it seems like this work wasn't getting done anyway, I'm not sure what the big deal was.
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Old 04-29-10, 01:37 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
Tacomi
Washingtonia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Tacomi, aliam Seattlea, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua KVRDave, nostra Slummius Rex appellantur.
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Old 04-29-10, 01:56 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Originally Posted by Sean O'Hara View Post
Washingtonia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Tacomi, aliam Seattlea, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua KVRDave, nostra Slummius Rex appellantur.
Illud latine dici non potest.
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Old 04-29-10, 02:12 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Originally Posted by Dr Mabuse View Post
Illud latine dici non potest.
Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo, Mabuse pathice.
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Old 04-29-10, 02:25 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post
If you have a contract, you'd be a friggin' FOOL to let "someone" do your job for free. A contract is a contract. If either party doesn't like it, they can renegotiate it or kiss my ass until the contract's time period is complete.
Yeah, but how often do you have a contract between two entities that restricts other parties from acting in their own interest. Say I'm renting office space and the property manager has a contract with a local cleaner to provide all the janitorial services. Because of tough times, the property manager starts having the offices cleaned twice a month instead of twice a week. Do you really think the cleaning company should be able to tell my property manager that I'm not allowed to tidy the place up more frequently than that?
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Old 04-29-10, 02:45 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Those are some pretty shitty parents, wanting to save the schools some money so that it can be used to educate their kids instead.
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Old 04-29-10, 02:51 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Originally Posted by Sean O'Hara View Post
Washingtonia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Tacomi, aliam Seattlea, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua KVRDave, nostra Slummius Rex appellantur.


Upyay ouryay uttbay
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Old 04-29-10, 02:53 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Originally Posted by WallyOPD View Post
It seems like making such a public fuss that will cast your union in a negative light might do more harm to future contracts than the lost work that might come from letting the volunteers do these tasks right now. Since it seems like this work wasn't getting done anyway, I'm not sure what the big deal was.
Doubtful because this indicates they already have a pretty poor relationship with the union.
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Old 04-29-10, 03:26 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

This all brings up the question - why would any company sign a contact with a union. I don't see any benefit except for the union. A school legally required to only work with unions?
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Old 04-29-10, 03:51 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Originally Posted by cpgator View Post
This all brings up the question - why would any company sign a contact with a union. I don't see any benefit except for the union. A school legally required to only work with unions?
Because it is easier to negotiate one time for 100 people than 100 times.

There are good reasons, but certainly you give up some control on things. But you give it up as part of the negotiation.

When we negotiate with the unions, it isn't bad. The teacher's union is easy. The support staff union isn't as easy, but you go in with what you can do, and if they can't accept it, you don't sign a contract with them. If they strike, you go out and get more.

In the end, I have learned that the SEIU will do whatever it takes to sign (in our area). They don't give a shit about small areas. They bluster and make it sound like they are doing a lot for their people, but they don't. They just want a dog and pony show, and union dues to keep coming in. And as a result of their union rep being an ass, we generally walk out on him (he can't even negotiate while maintaining civil behavior), because he wants to put on the show for his people. And, quite frankly, they end up with less than they would if they didn't use them. We've tried explaining it to them, but the SEIU are masters at convincing people that without them, they'd get nothing.
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Old 04-29-10, 05:08 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

The issue with volunteering is not only the work done, but the pride and the building of relationships, showing the kids that others care, etc.

The Union could have scored some points by seeing if any of their members would like to join in the volunteering.
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Old 04-29-10, 05:46 PM
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Re: Union squelches Tacoma school volunteers at weekend work party

Originally Posted by Sdallnct View Post
The issue with volunteering is not only the work done, but the pride and the building of relationships, showing the kids that others care, etc.

The Union could have scored some points by seeing if any of their members would like to join in the volunteering.
Agreed. I am sure that they would say that if there is that much extra work that needs to be done, there needs to be new union guys hired.

The downside is that if you hurt a relationship with the public, you don't pass your M&O levy, and then you end up having to get rid of some union workers. Tricky balance.
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