Thursday, April 07, 2011

New York City's magic custodians

---they can make themselves disappear!

Yes, you thought only such magic was on the boardwalk at Coney Island but in New York City schools it's a proud tradition. Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had a headline in the city section - "Custodians Charged in Scam - schools paid for work done on private properties; checks for 'no-show' staff".

This is not news. It's an ongoing absurdity of corruption that hits the headlines every four or five years but never stops. It's the custodian union's tradition and they somehow have it locked in.

In 1986 I had a secretary whose husband was a school custodian, in name. He went to his job whenever he chose to do so which was not so often. From time to time he worked off the books home construction with friends, he went to the track, and I could hear my secretary on the phone looking for him some days, not knowing where he was. This was not a case of union seniority out of control. Husband and wife were in their early thirties. It was inexplicable to me then and I was encouraged to see the "scandal" hit the media a few years later... and then a few years later... and with the prosperity of Wall Street and thus the strength of the NYC tax base, maybe ten years later when the tech boom busted... and now again.

It remains inexplicable.


Anonymous kf said...

I assume that is more of a comment on our New York City and its unmanageability than it is on the concept of unions and the protection they can offer to workers.

3:32 PM  
Blogger John Borden said...

You're right, sort of. Unions can play an important role for workers, but if they are corrupt, as they so often are here in the Empire State, then they are not good. There are situations, as with the national teacher's union, where corruption is not the issue but intransigence is. The teacher's unions broadly, and I can't speak to every state, are a huge obstacle to any progressive measures to improve our terrible school systems in the U.S.

9:13 PM  

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