April 14, 2010

Concern trolling about union democracy

Over at Jay Greene's blog, Greg Forster points out that the majority of weighted votes in the last United Federation of Teachers election were not from current classroom teachers. This is corruption! is the implication. Er, no. It's called following the legal bylaws of an organization. I haven't heard Forster call for the reweighting of general-election balloting so that all ages are represented in proportion to their actual population, nor have I heard his call for the abolition of the U.S. Senate, which gives small-population states such as Arkansas power far beyond their relative size, nor any concern from him that in some cities, a single voter controls all of the ballots for school board elections (some people call that mayoral control).

There are potential problems when retirees form the majority of a union's membership, but it's also a problem if retirees who depend on the fulfillment of their pensions have no voice whatsoever in the running of the primary organization defending their pension rights. The weighting in UFT is one of many plausible ways to address the dilemma. From someone who received a Ph.D. in political science from Yale University, one might expect an analysis based on the existing literature on power in different voting systems, and it is disappointing not to see any evidence of such a perspective in what is essentially catcalling.

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Posted in Education policy on April 14, 2010 10:36 PM |