So many school districts are losing revenue and having to cut teachers and extracurricular activities while just trying to make their budgets. One school district in the Cincinnati area not only had to cut teachers and all sports and music programs, but they also stopped busing students to and from school. They’ve tried to pass levies on the ballots to help raise money for the schools but residents keep voting it down.
Wouldn’t you think that teachers unions would want to help school districts to be able to be fiscally responsible, especially in today’s struggling economy? If schools are having to layoff teachers that means the unions are bringing in less money in the form of dues. It behooves them to work with the school districts to operate within their means, but that’s not the thinking of the teachers union in Wisconsin.
After Gov. Scott Walker passed his controversial Act 10 in 2011, it allowed school districts to manage their budgets without union interference. They were free to revamp benefits such as retirement and health insurance that was previously controlled by the unions during their collective bargaining contract negotiations.
Of course the unions don’t like losing control of anything, even if it means the financial health of the school district. Many Wisconsin school districts took advantage of Act 10 and helped to streamline their budgets and reduce their operating costs. This afforded many of them to keep teachers on staff and to maintain sports and music programs that otherwise may have been cut.
The Whitefish Bay School District is one of those districts that used Act 10 to help cut their costs. One of the changes they made was to the employee retirement health insurance. Before Act 10, they paid for 92% of cost of retirees’ health insurance for 10 years or until Medicare benefits kicked in. Under Act 10, they opted to cap the benefits at 2012 rates which meant that any future increases in the cost of retiree health plans would be paid for by the retirees.
This change didn’t set well with the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), the largest teachers union in the state. Even though Whitefish Bay School District acted within their legal abilities, the union filed a lawsuit against the district challenging the legality of their actions.
But wait, there’s more! The union was SO mad that it also filed a lawsuit against Mark Kapocius personally, the Human Resources Director for the Whitefish Bay School District. The union claims that Kapocius should be held personally liable for all of the damages suffered by the plaintiffs (the retirees).
Kapocius is not only the Human Resources Director but he is also a municipal judge in Greendale, a suburb of Milwaukee. When contacted about the lawsuit, he commented:
“[The lawsuit] “was dead in the water as a matter of law,” but “on top of that, I think it was done out of spite, and frankly for other political motivations.”
He added that the union reaction is typical and demonstrates their pattern of chasing:
“…sympathetic cases in friendly courtrooms to advance their interests, more so for its leadership than its rank-and-file members.”
“I think it’s really what WEAC is now. It’s a legal department grasping at straws.
“It’s a desperate organization.”
Evidently Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Christopher R. Foley agreed with Kapocius and dismissed the entire lawsuit. Kapocius said that Judge Foley was offended that the lawsuit specifically targeted him (Kapocius).
Once again we have a union that doesn’t care about the company, in this case a school district, being fiscally responsible with what funds they have to operate with. I’ve seen unions in the past drive a company out of business rather than work to help reduce costs and keep the company viable and the workers employed. All they care about is their power and control to ruin and manipulate companies and school districts.
You can add this to the growing list of reasons of why I hate unions and believe that their time has passed.