Harry Wong
Jan 2017
Vol 14 No 1

Lesson for Teachers: Why Elephants Protect Each Others’ Calves or What Loss of Union Representation Can Mean

By Teachers.Net Community

By James Wayne – responding to a poster who signed as “Unemployed worker”

An adult elephant has few enemies that are able to harm it, but elephant
calves are something else. They are large and full of meat, but they are
also slow, have no tusks with which to defend themselves, and are
inexperienced about the dangers around them.

So the whole herd protects them. If a mother elephant dies, one of the other females in the herd will adopt the baby. When jackals or other animals large or numerous enough to harm an elephant calf (but not an elephant adult) come near, the elephants place all the calves in the center of the herd. For the jackals to get at the calves, they must somehow get through all those very large, alert, intelligent, tusked, dangerous adults. The elephants don’t protect just their own calves, they protect all the calves in the herd.

Humans are not as smart as elephants. As soon as predatory forces attack one group of workers who are not as well protected, the other workers turn on the victims. Instead of saying, “If you lose your pension this time, I may lose mine next time,” or, “If you can be dismissed for arbitrary or political reasons this year, I may be dismissed for those same reasons next year,” they say, “Well, you have more vacation than me, or you have better conditions than me, so I have no interest in helping you.”

Unemployed worker, you may very well be unemployed because, when labor asked our government to protect local businesses and industries from multinational corporations, too many said, “It doesn’t matter to me, I don’t work for those places.”

What loss of union representation can mean (and has meant in some places) is a situation where your boss can fire you without having to demonstrate cause or offer you a chance to improve, but you can’t quit, no matter how arbitrary he is, because the contract is so worded that all the protections go to the employer and all the duties go to the employee.

Do not doubt this. Minimum wage is just as hated by those who hate unions as collective bargaining is. The forces that want the teachers in Wisconsin to give up collective bargaining also hate OSHA for forcing employers to act to reduce employee danger in the workplace. They hate wage-hour laws. They hate maternity leave laws. They hate clean water and clean air laws. The very idea of unemployment insurance makes their teeth ache. When they think of Workman’s Comp, they grow whole new forests of frown lines. They hate every effort made by employees to use their power of numbers to offset the power of money of the rich.

I predict, unemployed worker, that if the Wisconsin government is successful in its work to destroy the unions, you will be employed very soon at a job with no protections that doesn’t pay enough to live on.

Good luck to you; after all, dog food is cheap. And if the equivalent of $5 a day is adequate in Bangladesh, it should be adequate in Milwaukee.

Caveat emptor!

Jim Wayne


About James Wayne…

James Wayne has taught third grade and every grade from fifth to twelfth during a full-time career of 34 years, either in regular classrooms or in AG or AP classes. He began his writing prompts as a way to help teachers improve writing scores in his district. A native of North Carolina, James is a graduate of Duke University and a Vietnam Veteran, having served with the 101st Airborne Division. He continues to work part time for Onslow County Schools as a coordinator of the Academic Derby, a televised scholastic competition serving elementary, middle, and high schools. James resides in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 and is filed under *ISSUES, March 2011, Teachers.Net Community. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.8 No.3 March 2011

Harry & Rosemary Wong: Effective Teaching
Learning Objectives: The Heart of Every Lesson
For lessons to come to life in the classroom, they must emanate from the heart....

Cover Story by Todd Nelson
Tiger Mother, David Brooks, Mud and Snow
For lessons to come to life in the classroom, they must emanate from the heart.

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