Should Teachers Unions be allowed to Strike?

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Fighting for the schools their students deserve by not teaching them.

Before the Unions rally their charges to come hunt me down with pitchforks I’d like to remind them that this is a hypothetical question that too many parents aren’t asking themselves in Chicago as they look for a place to put their kids. The nation’s third largest school district is on strike for the first time in a quarter century and that means 350,000 students aren’t getting the mediocre education tax dollars are funding. 29,000 teachers and staff are on the picket line in an attempt to get the school district to cave to demands for concessions and while the stalemate continues the kids suffer.

An average city school teacher in Chicago makes around $71,000 dollars a year and the union wants more. Along with negotiations both sides were duking it out over something the union sees as a threat to job security but what others might see as the district taking responsibility. The union sees job performance evaluations and “accountability” as a threat to their teachers’ job security and they’re kind of right because if a teacher fails performance evaluations then they might not have a job anymore and frankly they shouldn’t.

Kids are currently not in school learning so that a teacher making $71,000 for less than 9 months of work can demand more money and less oversight on how they do their job. Keep in mind that the teacher can take up another job during those summer months thus increasing their income higher than most Americans. The worst part of all of this is that before the teachers went on strike they were informing their classes of why they’re going on strike thus influencing the kid and their parents to see the unions side of things and sending home packets of homework that they’ll be forced to do without any assistance except from their hard working parents whose math class from 30 years ago is long outdated.

I also found it highly suspicious that the union chose to go on strike for the first time in 25 years just after the city announces it wants more non-union charter schools.

I understand why factory workers need to be able to strike. I mean I understand why they needed to strike in 1920 but I can’t figure out why a teachers union would need to strike in the 21st century and going a step further than that I don’t understand why they are allowed to do so. If we really put our children’s education at the top of the priorities list then Chicago should fire every single teacher on strike and hire some people who want to educate kids rather than hide behind a union when they get busted for not doing their job. I get that America is deeply rooted in the unions so my sentiments won’t go over well but the problem is that incidents like these further prove that unions are no longer necessary today because they are willing to sacrifice your kids’ education for more benefits that a teacher simply is not entitled to.

“I am disappointed by the decision of the Chicago Teachers Union to turn its back on not only a city negotiating in good faith but also the hundreds of thousands of children relying on the city’s public schools to provide them a safe place to receive a strong education.” – Mitt Romney

Oddly that is probably the only statement from Mitt Romney where I will say “I agree with him”.

Should teachers unions be allowed to strike? No they shouldn’t and any parent who says “I want the best for my child” shouldn’t support the union either. Not only are the unions striking but they want to prevent the Chicago school district from being able to assess a teachers job performance which means that if they’re not teaching properly the district is going to have an awfully hard time removing them. If one union is doing it others could soon follow. Are you OK with your child receiving a piss-poor education just so a teacher can have the right not to get fired for not doing their job? Are you OK with your kids not being in school so that a teacher earning more money than most Americans who work nearly 365 days a year can demand more money? Are you OK with your kids being briefed about the union in class and then handed a homework packet while the teachers hit the picket lines?

Why aren’t they on strike during their 3 months off?

The unions don’t care about your kids and neither do the teachers. If they did they would not be striking just a few days into the school year when it is essential to focus kids and get them learning again. Why didn’t they choose to strike while they had all that time off or wait until next summer? They’d rather bully the district into giving into their demands rather than actually negotiate a fair deal with the city. If we continue allow teachers to strike and demand unfair benefits then teachers are going to have no reason to properly teach because after all the union thinks that accountability and performance is a threat to job security.

It’s hard for me to side with a union when what they’re doing is damaging to education. It’s even harder for me to side with a teacher who wants to earn more money for less work. In my opinion if you don’t want to do your job with the current pay and benefits then you either work harder for a promotion or you quit. Striking is quitting to me and if it wasn’t illegal I’d fire the whole lot of those Chicago “teachers”. Unions had their place in American labor but that was a long time ago and the continued presence of unions is not only a threat to our children’s education but a threat to the American economy.

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Author: James

I am the owner and main author of My Bloggity Blog. I started this blog on a whim and it grew faster than I ever imagined. I seriously enjoy debating politics and foreign policy as I'm sure you've noticed but I also enjoy a wide array of other things that I try to include here.

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  • k taylor

    Great article. IMO, all public sector unions should be outlawed. In a factory setting, if the employer mistreats the workers, they go on strike and until they cut a more fair deal, the employer’s widget factory grinds to a halt and neither the workers nor the employer make any money until a deal is reached.

    In a public services setting, negotiation is one sided. The union vigorously advances the interests of its members against a government that wants to avoid public outrage over a loss of publicly funded services. If the teachers, for example, go on strike, the public does not have their taxes adjusted, leaving them with more money in their pocket to find a workaround, they just keep paying for a service that they are no longer receiving. Hence, outrage. Public sector strikes are like collective punishment on the entire population – give us what we want or none of your kids are getting an education.

    Furthermore, there is a “double-dip” to a public sector union setting that cannot be ignored. If the government introduced horse whips for supervisors to discipline public servants, for example, they would likely be punished and humiliated at the voting polls. While a ludicrous example, this is exactly the type of employer behavior that unions were created to stop. My point is that if a government is seen to be horribly mistreating workers, unions or teachers or nurses could simply mount a campaign to show the mistreatment and if the electorate agreed, a kinder government would replace them. It works for animals, when animal rights activists show mistreatment, business step up to show how well they treat their animals.

    Finally, public sector unions introduce a catch-22 system which disproportionally represents public sector workers vs. The rest of the citizens. This works as follows:. A) anyone wanting employment within the public service must agree to join the union and pay dues to that union, b) public sector workers wages are paid for by the taxpayer, c) the union leadership uses these dues to fund a political party of their choice, based on whether they beleive that this party will advance the unions interest when in power, or immediately, if they are already in power, and finally d) when in power that party will feel obligated to give in to the unions demands due to large amounts of funds received, which ironically are funds ultimately paid by the taxpayer at large. Since unions typically collect a percentage of wages, union leadership obviously argues for higher wages.

    If police were to go on strike, for example, the citizenry would demand that the government get them back on the job as quickly as possible. If the police were making unreasonable demands, the quickest way to get them back on the job would be to give in to those demands. If the police union made large donations to the governments party, that party would want to keep this large donor happy. And if an unfriendly governmrnt to the police union was in power, then it may be beneficial for the police to strike near election time, in order to inflame the electorate and perhaps get a more friendly government in power. Nowhere in this vicious circle are the interests of the public at large taken into account – other than that the government of the day wants to appease the union in order to avoid risking inflaming the public.

    It is the teachers who unfortunately wield this stick far more often than any other pu lic sector worker. Nurses, for example do not like the idea of striking because they know people will die. Beauracrats and paper pushers dont strike because the public would not really notice they were missing for a long time because government takes forever to process anything as it is. Policemen are not allowed to strike. It is teachers only who can exact a crippling blow to the public which is felt immediately and where nobody will die.

    It is a power with which they have shown they cannot be trusted, and they have also shown that it is a power which no public sector worker should ever have again. I am not against unions – in the private sector where it is capital vs. Labor they work just fine.

    Just look at the auto sector. Unions drove too hard of a bargain, the domestic industry neared collapse, and they made deep concessions to enable capital to be more competitive. The push and tug goes both ways.

    In the public realm, it is only unidirectional.

  • Pingback: Reaction to Chicago Teachers’ Strike | Baig M.D.

  • http://twitter.com/SMB_ SϻB

    Totally agree. As someone who received a decent public education from a rather well to do part of the country, I grew up thinking education was uniform until high school when I realized that many school systems are an embarrassment for the world’s ‘wealthiest’ country. Teachers should be hired ,evaluated, and fired like any other employee. Too long have they used their respected societal position to sit comfortably. Yes it’s not the quick way to get rich, but from the amount of ‘work’ or lack thereof teachers make a lot more than I will as a first year Resident Physician working 80+hours a week. Also I noticed that even my town’s school system has been taken over and monopolized by a few circle of friends. Nepotism is rank within the school systems, with principals hiring under-qualified people they know etc… I was taught Chemistry by a ‘teacher’ who graduated from my high school with a 2.1 GPA and got a teaching degree from a community college. How hard did he work for his $80k/year job? I went through 7 years of schooling,busting my ass through medical school and my first job is going to pay me $50k if I’m lucky. Time to stop giving the freeloaders an easy ride, and rewarding good teachers with large pay bonuses and benefits. No job should have the security teachers have.

    • http://www.mybloggityblog.com/wordpress/ James

      Thank you for your comment it is appreciated. I got a
      reality check with teachers when I found out that my high school teachers were
      making on average upwards of $60,000 and the district was considered sub-par at
      best. There are certainly good teachers out there but the sad reality is that
      the unions have gotten the standards so low that essentially anyone on the
      verge of failing college can become a teacher and earn a great living for the
      work.

      Only in a union can you be encouraged to do poor work while being told to
      demand more benefits and when it looks as if you’re not going to get those
      benefits you can walk out of work indefinitely knowing you can go back whenever.
      If it were anywhere else those people would be fired and wouldn’t get a
      recommendation for their next place of employment.

    • Jason

      I could not agree with the author and you more. Though I wasn’t a big fan of his economic policies Ronald Reagan had it right when the air traffic controllers went on strike and he told them in no uncertain terms that as public servants they had no right to walk out on the job. He gave them 48 hours to return to work or be terminated. Public school teachers are public servants with good pay and great benefits and they should not be allowed to walk out on the job. If you and I walked out on the job at our workplace and refused to go back until our demands were met we would be immediately fired. No questions asked. No excuses. Grown ass adults SHOULD NOT be able to walk out on their job and expect to have it the next day.
      Every single one of those teachers that walked out should be fired. Quite frankly teachers are a dime a dozen especially the crappy ones – 99% of them in fact.