Monday, July 20, 2009

Crisis forces more to join the ranks of Chereidi schoolteachers - working but not paid for it.

There is, frankly, no way that most of the hundreds of teachers working in UO schools who have not been paid for months on end will ever see a dime of what they should have earned, this is obvious. Some of us have asked them or asked ourselves why they keep doing it knowing that they are not going to be paid.

Most answer that they believe they will be paid eventually, if not the back pay then at least their current earnings. Others feel a duty to not forsake the children entrusted to their classrooms. Some just don't think they can survive in the "outside" job market (and the probably can't). Though there was one walkout that I know of, most schools simply continue to operate and the unpaid teachers show up to work as if nothing was wrong.

And now, secular people are starting to do the same thing.

Crisis spurs people to work for free - good or bad?
Mon Jul 13, 2009 11:54am EDT
By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With U.S. unemployment at a 20-year high, some Americans are working for free while looking for a job, but experts are split over whether it is a sign of dedication or desperation.

Unpaid job seekers can keep their resumes fresh by boosting their experience and learning new skills, experts say, but others warn businesses may take advantage of the jobless and that it is illegal for commercial companies not to pay workers...

..."In some cases companies might be getting the better end of it (by having unpaid workers)," she said. "But it's nice to have something occupy yourself with and when speaking to prospective employers it's nice to say 'I haven't just been sitting around all day, I've actually been doing something.'"

It's not only the unemployed taking on free work. Some employed people are being asked by bosses to go without pay...

...some employees still work anyway to keep up or because they are worried about losing their job.

...Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Washington D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute, warns that while people can volunteer time for non-profit groups and government, it is illegal for commercial companies to not pay workers.

"It's not just a bad idea, it's illegal," Eisenbrey. "The law says (companies) may not suffer or permit employees to work for less than the minimum wage.

"The more desperate people get, they will do things like this to try and make themselves more appealing to an employer," he said. "The short-term prospects for most of the unemployed are very bad. They aren't going to be made much better by working off the books or working for nothing."

..."The argument that people are making is, is it desperation or dedication," she said. "It's not necessarily volunteering at a homeless shelter, but it's contributing that might also bring you some benefits in the long run."

Good or bad? In the case of teachers, bad. Schools are in violation of the law, even if they are registered as non-profit corporations. In most states, "volunteers" can work as office staff or on special projects for charities and various non-profit foundations, but they cannot be engaged in activities that the state obviously considers as falling under wage & labour guidelines and normally taxes the incomes of those positions, such as teachers.

Not to mention it's a violation of Torah to hire someone and then not pay them.

If the school system cannot function as a normal business, then the model for providing schooling is going to have to change, and drastically. Homeschool cooperatives, organized to legally operate as unpaid volunteer social societies, held in people's homes or in the empty sunday school rooms of every shul, can solve this problem - in fact, is the only real solution to this problem. The tuition crisis disappears because the only things the parents need to buy each year is each child's set of books and workbooks (and eventually only the workbooks), fees for afternoon sports teams, music lessons and art workshops, and field trip fees. Instead of paying tens of thousands in tuition per child, the expenses drop to only a thousand or two, tops, per child in a homeschool cooperative.

But so far the Ravs have not been willing to give up the numerous "administrative" positions at the dayschools and the control they have in preventing children from being taught secular academic subject matter, and until the schools start dropping like flies from bankruptcy they will not put the kid's needs first and take a pro-active stance toward the tuition crisis. They'd rather kids be out on the street and have no schooling at all.


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