Today’s Courant has an interesting, and well done, story about town council member Barbara Carpenter’s bid to become the next president of the West Hartford Education Association, the teacher’s union here.
Carpenter, a political independent, told the paper she’ll step down from the council if she wins the part-time union job. She’s a kindergarten teacher at Braeburn.
“There would be a conflict of interest if I were on the council and I was serving both groups. Ethically, it would be wrong for me to do that,” Carpenter told reporter Daniel P. Jones of the Courant, who deserves a nod of thanks for laying this story out completely.
There’s a chance someone else will win the teacher’s union job – Brenda Key, a third grade teacher at Duffy is trying to snag it, too – but if Carpenter wins it, the council faces an unusual issue: how to replace an independent? Normally, the members of council who hail from the same party pick a successor when someone resigns mid-term. But there are no other independents on the council, just six Democrats and two Republicans.
Pat Alair, the town’s deputy corporation counsel, told the Courant that anyone on the council will be able to nominate a successor as long as the nominee is not a registered Democrat. By state law, there can be no more than six members of any one part on the 9-person council.
That opens the door to all kinds of mischief and fun. I hope the Courant reports on it in detail.
If the workers at Stop & Shop go out on strike, I’ll shop elsewhere. I’m sure many others will, too.
But it’s distressing to hear from some of the workers that this fight is not quite what it seems. Stop & Shop’s management wants to require that its union workers pay at least a little bit toward their health care costs. The workers don’t want to do that.
What isn’t said, though, is their health care sucks — and they get it through their union. They have a crap policy. If they had a better one, most would gladly pay a share of it, but that’ll never happen because if they had a good policy, it would cost too much for Stop & Shop, take money out of union coffers and sock low-paid workers too badly for them to have any coverage at all.
What this strike talk really shows, once again, is how badly we need national health care. Companies can’t afford to offer health insurance with costs soaring year after year, and workers who are struggling as it is can’t keep paying higher shares of the tab. We’ll all go broke.
Can the country as a whole pull it off without going broke, too? Maybe, maybe not. But at least we can make intelligent policy decisions that apply across the board, instead of this awful mishmash of great care existing side by side with no care.
I hope the strike doesn’t happen. These workers can’t afford to stand idle. And Stop & Shop at least has unions. It seems kind of counterproductive to avoid its stores during a strike by shopping someplace else where workers have no say at all.
Ugh. I hate this kind of thing.