The French connection?
May 24, 2012
Maybe Green Bay’s birth as an outpost of New France (Jean Nicolet, 1634) explains it, but we were amazed last week to learn how deeply unions had penetrated Green Bay’s public employment—or more pointedly, how deeply public employment had penetrated Green Bay’s culture.
French government unions can pretty much shut down the country if they’re of a mind to. We’re wondering if Green Bay schools might have to close if the Teamsters Union gets crabby.
Green Bay school crossing guards are city employees, members of the Teamsters, and unhappy that the city may contract with a private security firm to reduce taxpayer costs.
We wondered if the position of crossing guard might be a common government job in Wisconsin. Evidently, yes. Five minutes’ searching found 19.8 positions, plus 1.7 supervisory slots, in the Madison Police Department’s organizational chart. A nearby village advertises an “employment opportunity” for a crossing guard, assuring that the successful applicant would be “making a difference in these young people’s lives…”
Heaven forbid anyone should think we don’t respect the service crossing guards provide in fair weather and foul. But we remember the folks with the safety patrol badges who were “making a difference” in our lives were 7th and 8th grade students from our own school. They weren’t in a union. They didn’t get paid.
Nowadays the idea of uncompensated 12- and 13-year old crossing guards would have the plaintiffs’ bar salivating uncontrollably, but the problem there is not 12-year olds willing to work for free. The problem—one of them—is that if your goal is expanding government, a good way to start is by squeezing out what used to be the honorable service of volunteers.
Next thing you know, school crosswalks are the Teamsters’ turf.