Biden Rips Republicans In Speech To NEA

Updated 07/03/11 – 4:22 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Vice President Joe Biden has been in Chicago, speaking to a nationwide teachers union, saying Republicans are attempting to blame educators for budget shortfalls; and he said that’s “one of the biggest scams in modern American history.”

The vice president spoke Sunday at the National Education Association’s annual convention. The union bills itself as the largest labor union in the U.S.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller reports, Biden told the 9,000 conventioneers, in Chicago for the NEA meeting, that he and President Barack Obama are on their side, unlike—he said – the new Republican Party.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller reports

“I just wish those folks who are attacking you now, I wish those folks who are trying to ascribe the blame for the worst recession America’s had since the Great Depression knew you a little better,” Biden said.

He told the teachers’ convention that the new Republican Party is not your father’s Republican Party. “This is a different breed of cat,” Biden said.

Talking about the plight of union teachers in Wisconsin and other states where budget battles have pitted Republican governors against teachers unions, Biden said the Republican Party has made a direct assault on labor.

“You know, all states are struggling from the impacts of this brutal recession that we inherited, yet there is an organized effort to place the blame for the budget shortfalls squarely on educators and other public workers. It is one of the biggest scams in modern American history,” Biden said.

Biden said that past Republican leaders would have negotiated better with labor unions, rather than try to curb their collective bargaining rights, as Wisconsin Republicans have.

Biden also said he respected the disagreements that teachers unions have had with the Obama administration, adding “not all of it are you wrong about.”

Nationally, educators will tell you outside the classroom, it’s become a tough time to be a teacher

Moves in Wisconsin, for example, to strip collective bargaining rights had them fighting back political charges that teachers can be overpaid and under-productive.

“I went into education 10 years ago and to see the transformation and attitude toward teachers in that short time frame has really been difficult,” Bill Farmer, a science teacher at Evanston Township High School, told CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole.

Farmer’s thoughts were echoed over and over by his fellow delegates at the NEA’s annual meeting.

“You wonder what’s going to make someone want to become a teacher in this type of environment that seems hostile to our profession,” Farmer added.

Even in a city where unions carry clout, huge budget deficits have The Chicago Board of Education canceling teacher negotiated 4 percent pay raises, a move not lost on those here from other states.

“For them to come in and say your contracts are null and void, that’s not the way business does business,” said Dan Haskell, a math teacher and delegate from Corydon, Ind.

“I think we are the end of the line, I think everybody’s been a target,” said Kathryn Castle, a delegate and educator from Elgin.

Castle said that in these tight economic times, teachers from around the country recognize it’s their turn to give back, but she also said they deserve a voice in the process.

“We believe sitting down at a table is the only way to move forward,” she said.

As Biden addressed the convention and promised teachers White House support, there was still concern about the long-term impact of recent struggles on those choosing to teach in the first place.

“It’s more frustrating for me to worry about the future of young teachers,” Haskell said.

“People question, is this the profession they want to stay in?” Farmer said

The NEA represents 3.2 million teachers nationwide. Members include educators here in Illinois, but Chicago Public School teachers are represented by a different union. Illinois delegates had praise for significant changes made in the state’s education policy signed into law earlier this month. The changes call for employment decisions based on effectiveness not seniority, and were negotiated by including teachers themselves in the bargaining process.

Biden’s speech came a day before the NEA’s vote on whether to endorse Obama’s bid for re-election.

  • tom Sharp

    Hey Joe, Daley, Rahm, and the mighty Quinn haven’t exactly been supportive of the unions lately.

  • krusty1

    Why do we need unions , we don`t manufacture anything and they are outdated & good for nothing but the Dems love them .

  • Roy Durbin

    what do you expect ?
    at a union convention .

  • GrammarCop

    Sorry Mr. VP…but the unions are a contributing factor to our current economic woes. That’s not the Dems fault nor the Repubs fault…however it is OUR problem and OUR fault. Jobs have steadily gone over seas for 20 years now which includes terms by both Democratic and Republican presidents. And we/they ignored the problem. Now, we’re facing economic Armageddon and again its OUR fault. It’s not Obama’s fault nor Bush’s fault. It’;s the fault of EVERYONE in Washington who, for years, looked the other way and the voters who keep electing these elite fat cats. To the career politicians who don’t give a rat’s behind about you and me…I say get your head out of your arse or get the heck out of office or we’ll do it for you!!!

    • -

      I t has more to do with lowering the tariffs and allowing free trade to take place instead. Do you wonder why most of the best made products you buy are now made in other countries? It’s because the other countries have higher tariffs! Everytime an american product is sold in another country, they make a profit from it, tariff, to put aside for their own economy. It also makes their products cheaper because they don’t have tariff’s on them, which encourages buying their own. George bush also gave tax cuts to corporations who outsourced their manufacturing bases to outside countries, helping us lose 20,000 under HIS watch. Corporations are REQUIRED by law to do what MAKES THEM the most money, which would be just that. Stop watching Fox News Channel it’s there to serve the corporate interest.

    • Joee S

      Yes you are right it is the working class people fault not the Repubs , corporation or wall street. how we bailed them out and got nothing in return. YOU ARE RIGHT IT IS THE MIDDLE CLASS FAULT

      • JOE S

        hay grammar cop the name is joe s not jose s and just like your comment you need to get a clue

      • GrammarCop

        Jose S…Who elected the people that voted for the bailout in Congress??? Get rid of those people or better yet, to the 48% of people who don’t vote…get off your arse and vote these crooks out of office!!!

  • Steve13565

    Since the rules have been change to let the wealth grab a much larger fraction of the pie than they used, a self-sustaining recovery has become impossible. The middle-class no longer has the income needed to buy all that the economy could produce if it were to achieve full employment.

    Guess what used to keep the greed of the wealthy in check. The unions. So it is actually the decline of the unions that has let the economy slide into permanent high unemployment.

  • onewhoworks

    anyone need a history lesson in employee rights? next time at work check out the big colorful poster titled Illinois Complete Labor Law Poster. Forget our history and we might find ourselves back where we started

  • Jennifer

    God Bless Joe Biden! He’s backed America’s middle class his whole life as a public servant. Thank you Joe!

  • Deer Hunter

    You can see why our country is headed for the shiphouse,just by reading the comments of these idiotic brainwashed posters,do you people really know what happen to us,I don’t think so.

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