Friday, July 27, 2018

Oklahoma Legislators to Propose New Teacher Employer Rights Bill

Politics>Satire>News from the Reich
27 July 2018
Written by: Jeramee Sikorski
Editor: Lisa Frank

Reading Time: 8 minutes of dystopian ecstasy

     Two sources just leaked a copy of a new draft bill from Oklahoma Republicans for the next legislative session. Speaking on condition of anonymity, they claim it equalizes the rights between teachers and employers. This comes in the wake of an attempt a few weeks ago when the state’s Republicans tried to pass a law designed i to “equalize the rights and raises” won by teachers in recent collective bargaining strikes, according to one source.

     I think the problem is just too darn many rights for these teachers. That's why we’re proposing the new teacher’s rights law that extends current contracts and pay rates for 15 years with a renewal option for an additional 6 years. It also makes it a criminal offense to terminate a contract early and provides for private law enforcement officers to earn a commission when they retrieve any criminal teachers from other jurisdictions,” said the source in what he proudly described as a pinnacle of “equal rights legislation.”

Beware, many of these nefarious criminals-to-be are masters of disguise.
They have plenty of construction paper and know how to use it!

     Those of us in the legislature were appalled by the onslaught of teacher’s outrage a few weeks ago,” he said of the earlier failed bill. “They were truly hurtful,” he said, adding that “some even threatened the legislator’s jobs.”

     There is just no tolerance for people speaking up on behalf of downtrodden people anymore,” he lamented. We asked what he meant by people since the bill is supposed to increase the rights of employers, which are typically corporations. “Oh, but corporations are people, my friend,” he gleefully remarked, “and they need protection too.”

     When pressed about the bill’s extremeness, he said the original version stated that “no interest in a contract in education employment is good unless it must vest, if at all, not later than twenty-one years after some life in being at the creation of the contact in interest.”   We were surprised by the specificity of the wording and inquired further.

    “We were informed by legislative researchers that this language only applies to things that can be inherited,” he said, “which was pretty disappointing.  Life sure was a lot simpler back when people just took over jobs from their parents, whether it was teaching, or blacksmithing, or cotton farming.”

    He then explained his reasoning, The problem is too little economic freedom for the employers. These teachers can go move somewhere else anytime they want, but you can’t move a school. This makes the schools captive to the outrageous demands of these people. We’re just trying to level the playing field by equalizing the mobility rights between the parties.”

     Yes, but aren’t most brick and mortar stores unable to move and still successful under current law?” we asked.

     You need to understand that, in collective bargaining, they are raping, and murdering us . . . and I suppose some are good people too . . . .” he trailed off quietly.
     We sought out business analyst Mike Hickle and legal analyst Brendan Beery for their expert opinions on this proposal.

Diogenetic Light: Let’s start with Mike. What is your opinion of this new law?

     This new Contractee Return Law will create many new business opportunities for people to enter private law enforcement and forcibly return escapee teachers,” Hickle began.

DL: Yes, but is it legal?

     This isn’t an issue of legality because it hasn’t been officially challenged in court yet,” offered Beery.

     Yes, and historically, the primary barrier to a law like this is whether law enforcement is willing to enforce it. Since enforcement for this law will be placed into market mechanisms, there should be no shortage of willing enforcers,” Hickle explained, adding “If the federal government can forcibly take children from refugee parents, a state should be able to forcibly return a teacher to a job where they have an outstanding contract.”

DL: But the government backtracked on that policy . . .

     Really?” interjected Beery, “The policy was officially reversed on June 21, so why have the majority of those kids not been returned to their parents yet? They are now saying that some 1,500 children are ‘ineligible for reunification,’ which is politico-speak for we don’t care and ain’t gonna do it. Like it or not, it’s still a de facto policy, and may be used to argue against other’s rights.”

DL: But how can a state force someone to work against their will?

     Here’s their legal theory: First, they equate breaking a contract with criminal fraud,” Beery said. “So, if a teacher gets disgusted with rotten pay and a draconian administration and decides to go to another state where she can be treated better and make a decent living, then legislators claim that is the same thing as Bernie Madoff coming in and stealing people’s life savings.”

DL: Wait a minute, are they taking their pay from the entire contract and absconding with it?

     Oh no, their pay periods don’t change at all,” Hickle clarified.

     Beery, in a soft and patient tone, continued, “The theory of the legislation is that the school has spent hiring resources securing the rights to that teacher’s services. Since the school cannot find willing teachers to replace a teacher who quits, then they are severely hurt enough to justify treating it as stealing property from the school, thus making it a felony.”

DL: So how would that work?

     Pretty good, from the projections I’ve seen,” Hickle replied. “The lawmakers expect the money saved on teacher contracts will be enough to offset the reward paid to the fugitive recovery agents created by the law.”

DL: So they are going to have bounty hunters to bring back escaped teachers?

     They prefer to be called ‘fugitive recovery agents,’” Hickle replied dryly.

DH: If the state will only break even from this law, then why do it?

     Oh no, it’s only the enforcement provision that will break even,” Hickle added. “After getting successful convictions for felonious breach of contract is when they really start to save money.”

DL: Wait a minute, I didn’t read anything about that in the report.

     That why I specialize in business intelligence analytics,” Hickle said with a sly smile. “You must understand both the business and political climates to see this.”

DL: So how does that work?

     After conviction, the felonious teacher will be sent to a private prison facility,” Hickle replied wryly. “Most private prisons have an ingenious work program: they don’t provide prisoners with basic such as soap, feminine hygiene products, or shaving cream – “

DL: Wait – what!?

     “ – but the prisoners can earn the money they need for those items by participating in the prison work program,” he continued. “They usually earn about $3 to $5 per day, which is enough to cover all the luxuries that they might want, such as toilet paper or deodorant. Plus, Republican lawmakers say these work programs are good for the prisoners. ii

DL: That sounds a lot like forced labor? Isn’t that illegal?

     That’s above my pay grade,” he replied. “I better let Prof Beery answer that one.”

     You’re correct, the thirteenth amendment did abolish involuntary servitude – that’s how it referred to slavery – but with one little loophole,” professor Beery matter-of-factly explained. “It can still be used as punishment for a crime.”

     Yep, and until recently, only states benefited from this barely tapped labor pool,” Hickle explained with a glint in his eye. “Thanks to privatization and public-private partnerships, that resource is now being made available for more effective utilization.”

DL: And that’s how a law that forces people to work below poverty wages can be legal?

     Yep,” replied Beery, his voice flat and devoid of emotion.

DL: And what kind of work would these jailed teachers even do?

     Oh, that’s the brilliant part of it!” Beery added sardonically. “The potential harm is only economic, and, because teachers are paid quite poorly, about $20,000 a year less than comparably educated professionals iii. So the economic harm is very small. Under state sentencing guidelines, they will be eligible for a work release program.”

     I bet those savvy entrepreneurs at Geo Group and CoreCivic are already working with employment agencies to provide highly skilled teachers to schools that are understaffed,” Hickle added enthusiastically. “If they’re lucky, the teachers might even be able to get hired into their old classrooms!”

DL: And the state can get away with this?

     Why not?” queried Beery. “The only thing that will prevent this law from passing is massive, organized protest to scare the lawmakers into scrapping the plan, which is why they targeted teacher’s unions in the law that failed last month. The legislators assumed everyone would be too worn out from all the prior protesting to put up a fight.”

DL: Would the legislature really be that bold?

     Of course,” Beery replied. “They were willing to take a bill protecting children from abuse, including sexual abuse, then removed all the language about protecting children and replaced it with the bill to break the unions and claw back raises iv they begrudgingly gave the teachers,” stifling a giggle at our naivete. “They could have simply added the extra language into the child protection bill.”

     For decades, the Republicans have had Equal rights protection as a key issue . . . for corporations . . .” Hickle added, trailing off.

DL: So, under this new law, if a teacher decides to teach in another state, even after a school year has ended, then they could be forcibly returned to the state, thrown in prison, and forced back into their old job with less pay and fewer benefits?

     Exactly, you’re a quick learner” responded professor Beery.

DL: And how much would the state save from this plan?

     Who said anything about saving money?” Hickle asked in surprise. “You gotta understand, this may be an expensive program to oversee and teachers aren’t paid much to begin with. By the time you deduct the $5 that they pay the prisoners every day, then figure in the necessary profit margin for both the private prison and the employment agency, the schools might be able to save 2 or 3% on their labor costs. But corporate profits are expected to soar next year, and that’s good for everyone’s 401k.”

DL: And what about the teacher’s own children?

     Oh, as convicted felons, the teacher’s children will probably become wards of the state and put up for adoption unless they have family who can step in. Until they are adopted, they will be placed in a private care facility that contracts with the state,” Beery opined.

     Hickle snapped his fingers, saying “You know what, I hear that Casa Padre in Texas has beds open now that some of those migrant kids have left. The state might even be able to get a discount based on volume if they send enough business to them!”

DL: Won’t that harm the teaching quality if the teachers are being treated as literal prisoners?

     Well, that’s not an evaluated metric in the report, so we have no way to project that,” Hickle explained.

DL: I still don’t understand how this is possible?

     Well, we used to do it in the early days of the country . . .” Hickle said.

     and, it was so successful that lawmakers codified it into the law,” Beery added.

Thanks for reading. Yes, the OK Republicans actually tried to gut a child protection bill in order to cheat hard working teachers from the pay raises that they struggled to earn. Most of the rest of this is reality-based satire, for now. It was only the backlash of teachers and their union that made these legislators retreat and actually pass the child protection bill. If you think a child’s safety is more important than tax cuts for the already insanely wealthy, then you can become an ally to unions, even if you don’t have a union in your job. Unions don’t just protect their own workers, they actively work to protect all of us.

A special thank you to my Mike Hickle and Lisa Frank who have colluded with me on several projects for The Diogenetic Light. You guys give me a clear set of eyes to see problems with my ideas, and I’m extremely grateful for that.  Thank you also to professor Jim Hicks, who showed me that even dry and boring legal topics can be made funny and interesting.  You even made the rule against perpetuities semi-enjoyable.

iii Oklahoma teachers report being paid about $50,000 per year, despite often using their summer “vacation” for continuing education to sharpen their teaching skills and make classes more engaging and fun for our children.

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