Bricks on the Brain

UM Law

Friday, March 03, 2006

Do Not Support The Strike Tax

I do not support the strike, and neither should you. I ask my fellow students to consider the following:

(There are now 8 updates, scroll down to see them)

1. UNICCO workers want local students to be taxed in the form of higher tuition. In 1993 President Clinton offered our nation a plan for universal health care. Our nation declined the offer. Nonetheless, understand that Congress could create such a program, and establish national taxes to fund it.

2. By national taxes, I refer to the income tax. Understand that under our present income tax system, the higher one's income the more taxes one pays. In our country if you earn $100,000, expect to pay over $30,000 in income tax (roughly 30%).

3. Hardly any students pay income tax. Why not? Because we have no income. Technically, nearly all of us are insolvent. Aside from having no income, we have few if any assets. We rent our housing and our transportation. Even after graduation, most of us will be in debt for many years due to student loans.

4. The UNICCO workers' problems are a national problem, not a localized one. Nationwide there are very few low level service jobs that offer benefits. Some argue this is a national tragedy. Others argue that it allows businesses to employ more workers, thus allowing more human beings to escape poverty. If the UNICCO workers' demands are met, it is a near certainty that some of them will be let go to pay the benefits demanded by the others. But this economic debate isn't relevant for us. This is a national debate and a national problem.

5. The UNICCO workers are striking precisely because students are an economically vulnerable population. We have no power or resources to stand up to the powerful Labor Unions behind the strike. We might whine and complain, but ultimately we'll have no choice but to pay their proposed tax (via higher tuition).

6. The term "living wage" is a cheap shot, implying that we students are heartless and don't care about helping our fellow man. To the contrary, many of us are pursuing our education for the sole purpose of bettering society. This tactic is as bad as the line that convinces low-income workers that its OK to waste their paychecks on lottery tickets (you've seen these people at the quickmarts, haven't you?) because "the money goes to school children. You don't want the kids to have books?" Educated people refer to the lottery as "a stupidity tax." Just as one can advance education without paying a stupidity tax, one can advance better working conditions wihtout paying a tuition tax.

7. Ironically, the group most empowered to make a difference is paying nothing but lip-service to the workers. The UM Professors are the wealthiest players in the picture. To my knowledge, no professor has offered a single penny salary reduction to fund the workers' demands. Not a single penny. Law professor Michael Fischl has managed to get his name in the papers by loudly advancing the workers' cause, which certainly can't hurt sales of his nationally distributed book on exam-taking. One would assume Prof. Fischl derives royalties from the book, but has he donated any to the workers' cause? I am not accusing him or any of the workers' supporters of hypocrisy. Professors are not practical people by nature. I honestly believe they haven't fully thought out where the money is going to come from, and don't realize they are supporting a tax on their own students.

Maybe someone should be taxed to provide universal health benefits to all. Reasonable minds can disagree as to the solution to the problem, but reasonable minds must agree the problem is national. Having experienced economic belittlement first-hand, our nation's founders recognized that unchecked, locally powerful groups (the Labor Unions) might abuse their strength by taking advantage of the economically weak (college students). This is why they empowered Congress with the ability to raise taxes to solve problems on a national scale. The Legislature of the State of Florida has similar powers.

I encourage the workers' supporters to take their concerns to these more appropriate forums where the issue can be discussed and resolved in a manner that is fair to everyone. What is taking place on the UM campus is the worst kind of class warfare, i.e. the poor exploiting the poor. Denying college students the services they themselves are struggling to pay for is no way to achieve equality. Americans are better than this.
Update #1
The issue is truly national, unless UM students plan on frequenting Neverland.
Update #2
On March 3, 1991 Rodney King was savagely beaten by LA cops with nightsticks. On March 3, 2006 a UM undergraduate invokes his memory in an email sent to all students by Prof. Fischl (surely soon to be posted to propaganda blogs). Apparently she was breaking campus rules that have been put in place to try to maintain a modicum of decorum and order during the strike. Specifically, the campus police seemed to think she was distributing flyers where she shouldn't have and asked her for her name or CaneCard. Apparently this modest request was too much for Fischl's doe-eyed acolyte and caused her to break down in tears. But wait, it gets worse:
"The tone they used with me was completely obsured(sic) and rude, and I did not appreciate them hounding me and yelling at me in my face."

A martyr? The Rodney King of our generation? Or simply a Coral Gables Drama Queen? You decide, dear reader.
Update #3
More proof that vulnerable students are being hurt by shameful strikers. Moving class off-campus trammels rights of the handicapped (via
According to some students, moving classes will cause problems the faculty is not taking into consideration. One student, who preferred to remain anonymous to avoid “a swarm of angry students,” told the SunPost that two of his roommates and several friends are disabled and won’t be able to travel further to attend classes. “I just know this makes me upset because my friend has been overlooked many times because of his disabilities,” the student wrote in an e-mail of one wheelchair-bound friend. “I know that these strikes are only going to overlook his situation once more.”
Let's just hope UM doesn't have to cut services for disabled students in order to pay the workers this so-called "living wage".
Update #4
More proof professors supporting the strike are out of touch. Completely disregarding any notion of religious sensitivity, many professors have suggested holding classes in churches and synagogues (no mosques reported yet). The following exchange took place on a blog hosted by left-wing law professor Michael Froomkin:
Q: What about the minority of students who wouldn't feel comfortable in a Christian Church? Why not a Mosque or Temple?

Froomkin: Are there any such people? I've never met one. Certainly, as a Jew I would have no trouble having a class in a church or a mosque--as long as it doesn't involve a prayer or a sermon and assuming the seating wasn't too uncomfortable. Why should I?

Can a person (insert Friends Chandler Bing) beeee more out of touch? Luckily another student edumacated the Prof:

"Buster": I am in the BA class [where a move to a church was proposed], and I feel very uncomfortable having class in a church. I go to a secular university that has perfectly adequate (albeit somewhat dated) classrooms.

No reports yet of sympathetic professors opening lectures by invoking group prayers for the striking workers, but as Froomkin argues, why should it bother anyone?
Update #5
Now its all starting to make sense. Are supporters aware that behind the strike lies the SEIU, a powerful International Labor Union? Probably not. They're probably also not aware of all the corruption charges that analysts and the union's own members have leveled against it.

According to the Labor Relations Institute:

The Service Employees International Union appears to be one of the few success stories of the American organized labor movement, and that makes this union an especially dangerous adversary. People considering SEIU representation must become informed about the real SEIU - the one behind the slick marketing and public relations.

The SEIU Report reveals a highly bureaucratic union whose number one goal is to increase membership. Despite a modern veneer, the SEIU has all the earmarks of a traditional big business union: corrupt and overpaid officials; a top down administrative style that renders individual members powerless; a history of disruptive strikes; and thousands of members who are forced to file charges against their union representatives to correct unfair treatment.

A particular New York chapter of the union has started its own website voicing its complaints about the SEIU. Their web site is telling. Among their gripes about the SEIU:
1) Excessive DUES Increases
2) Poor contracts with no money and no Pension Increases
3) Using our DUES to hire lawyers to keep themselves out of JAIL
4) Excessive spending that is draining our Treasury
5) Ignoring legitimate grievances
6) NOT being properly represented at arbitration hearings
7) Corrupt staff that won't represent our members
8) Firing staff members who voice their opinion
9) Reductions at Our Job sites
10) Lowering our standards by cutting deals and staffing buildings with 80%ers to help management
11) Corrupt Political campaign practices
12) Having our Local investigated by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office
13) Wasting Millions of dollars on a displaced worker bill that
DOES NOT protect our wages, benefits or terms and conditions
14) Rising payroll costs and hiring of Outsiders, which Raises Our DUES
15) Misuse of our Funds for the S.E.I.U's misguided agenda
16) Allowing Non-Union buildings in the 5 Boroughs
17) Raiding smaller Locals and calling it organizing
18) Providing fake ID's and Social Security numbers to undocumented workers
19) Changing our By-law's to prohibit Democracy and suit their agenda
20) Declining services at our Union Building and not allowing members access to every floor of the building they PAY for
21) Firing unionized teachers and office workers from locals 153 & the UFT
and replacing them non-union
And this article is a must read for all of those who still think the workers will ever see a dime of the tuition increases we students will be forced to bear. I wonder if Prof. Fischl is educating his disciples about both sides of Organized Labor, or if he's sugar coating it for them to keep his name in the spotlight?
Update #6
A web site of student activists calling themselves STAND has sprung up supporting the workers. Apparently, these students have plans beyond just the UNICCO strike. They also want to rid UM of CocaCola products?! Oh my. But what I found most interesting is their stated purpose:

We are here:
Because apathy leads to tyranny
Because Freedom is not a fair-weather friend
Because all great truths began with blasphemy
Because people should always come before profit
Because culture should not be defined by corporate logos
Because we see our planet dying
Because most people are not male, white, and rich
Because balances are not being checked
and Because change is imperative.
Hmmm. Arguably the highlighted language is racist and in violation of UM student codes. Of course, they would argue that it is neutral on its face and merely states a true fact. However, it is loaded with innuendo that sends a clear message to white males on campus. It is certainly offensive by any campus standards.

Color scheme for this UM student group that holds white males in contempt? Not Cane orange and green, but rather Red and pink. Hmmm. If you do support the workers that's your choice, but take a hard look at this group before you associate yourself with them.
Update #7
More of our profs putting our money where their mouths are. Prof. Froomkin (see Update #4) above computed that to meet the workers' demands it would cost each student roughly somewhere between $165.00 and $117.00. Nice to see him admitting that students must pay. But surprise, surprise--he didn't bother to calculate what it would cost if faculty bore the burden that they themselves are advocating for. So I will:
a) Froomkin believes the cost of the workers' demands is between $2.5 and $1.7 million.
b) According to the UM website, there are 2,200 full time faculty (there are actually 9,218 full time employees).
c) Thus using Froomkin's estimates, we could also meet the workers' demands by reducing faculty salaries by somewhere between $1136 and $772 per faculty member.
Any guesses as to why Froomkin didn't provide his weblog readers with the full picture?
Update #8
Attack of the Bulldogs! Professor Michael Freudkin (See Updates #4 & #7) has pyschoanlayzed the students who oppose the strike and want classes to remain on campus. According to him we're not driven by logic and reason. As best I can tell, he seems to think that (1) the fact we go to a 2nd tier school combined with (2) a highly competetive legal job market equals a student body instilled with fear. He says, "It's not a stretch to see how this fear translates into disinterest in the plight of janitors on the part of some." I suppose for a Yalie like him it's a stretch to consider that we might actually be as well or better informed than him on the issues. Yes, he somehow thought it relevant to twice mention that he went to Yale. Oh and by the way, he's not even on campus this semester. No mention of a degree in psychoanalysis on his UM bio page. Maybe he just watches a lot of Dr. Phil?

Prof. Vladeck has determined that we just don't get it: we pay $100,000 for a degree ergo the janitors are top o' da food chain: "... I also am responsible to and for the workers who allow me to teach, and who facilitate the means by which I do so." Well, at least he didn't trumpet the fact that he too is a Yalie.

Well guys, UM may have mistakenly recruited some shady athletes in the past, but we never admitted this character.


  • At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I read Professor Froomkin's blog and I was a bit astonished when I first read his response regarding the personal feelings of students who now attend class in a church or synagogue. I am sympathetic to the workers, nevertheless I do not support holding classes off campus nor would I attempt, as the Professor did, to question the reasons why a student may or may not feel comfortable attending class in a place of worship.

    All professors, students, and others have the right to feel or express their views in regard to the strike. But, no one professor is larger than his or her class. Thus, it is not surprising that professors who -- rightly -- chose to balance all interests involved (whether through a class vote or an executive decision) continue to hold classes on campus.

  • At 11:23 AM, Blogger Bricklayer said…

    In his case, I think his surprise at our reactions are genuine. I don't think he means to question our views themselves, but is intellectually curious about a thing he doesn't understand. And my post should not be construed to criticize his personal religious views.

    My aim was just to point to an example of our professors being profoundly oblivious to us students. They consistently engage in "group-think"...unfortunately we aren't part of the group.

  • At 1:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Some idiot student group got my alma mater, the University of Michigan, to ban Coke products from campus. What good did this do you might ask? It meant that local Coke employees were laid off and students had to walk off campus to buy Coke products.

    Strangely, it had absolutely no effect on the independent Coke distributor in India that was the source of the group's issues.

  • At 12:42 AM, Blogger Counsellor in Cultivation said…

    Hi there,

    I am seriously considering UM law (this fall) and would love to chat with you about it if possible...
    leave a comment on my blog if you can.

  • At 5:55 PM, Blogger Bricklayer said…

    Start a post on your blog with questions and I'll be happy to answer. UM Law is a good place; my blog is intended as constructive criticism, not an attempt to scare you away.

    Also check out and ("cringe") they both have links to other UM Law student blogs.


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