Forced to play the PR game: Cops, teachers

economic-forecast-headerNYPD cops literally turning their backs on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as part of their effort to gain the upper hand in labor contract negotiations are playing a hand we’ve seen played by another group that is masterful at getting attention to its plight for more pay: teachers.

Every spring, in city and town halls across the country, teachers’ unions rally their members to press local officials on how little their members are paid, how neighboring localities are doing so much better by their teachers, how the profession is going to lose good people if the local government doesn’t do something about it all.

New York cops had a trump card at their disposal the past couple of weeks with the media attention given to the funerals of two slain NYPD officers that they were able to play for the cameras with a simple turn of the back to the mayor.

Teachers have to work hard to create their own similar visuals. While most of us don’t want to see police unless we need them, and we don’t want to need them, teachers toil in necessary obscurity in classrooms where the magic of education takes place in a manner akin to the process by which grass grows.

It’s a shame, in one sense, that both groups have to play the PR game to fight for a percent here and there that gets them a tad bit closer to being able to make ends meet.

Cops keep us safe and secure, and teachers give us the tools to be part of a trained workforce, both foundational elements to a society that can have a thriving economy.

Unfortunately for both groups, and a third group, those we dismissively call government bureaucrats, the nameless folks who work in various and sundry offices that provide public services, the essential services they provide are subject not to market forces, but political forces.

Elections are usually won by the pols who promise the loudest to keep government spending in line.

Thing is, governments, like other entities out there, spend the bulk of their budgets on people. People like cops, people like teachers, people like the folks in offices in city hall, people like the folks who pick up your trash every Tuesday, make sure the water and sewer works like it’s supposed to.

So we ask them to do their jobs and at the same time expect them to sing for their supper.

Whose backs are turned now?

– Column by Chris Graham

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