This Chicago Tribune article suggests that public school teachers are waking up to the hard realities that nearly everyone else is facing and are becoming more hesitant to strike. If it's true, it comes as more people are asking why teachers (and other public servants) should have the right to strike, a question that is being raised as the public becomes more generally aware of the big pensions and other labor benefits that are putting states and local governments in hock.
The Tribune article comes as teachers in Zion-Benton public schools are returning to work after a brief strike. The terms of the new contract are being kept secret until it is approved (or struck down) by the school board next week. The secrecy isn't doing much to increase public confidence in the ability of school boards to stand up to such strikes.
Here is what Education Action Group has to say about the strike:
STRIKES AND RUMORS OF STRIKES
Over in Illinois, the 280-member Zion-Benton Federation of Teachers wrapped up its four-day strike against students and taxpayers on Tuesday. Even though teachers’ contracts are considered “evergreen” – meaning they stay in effect until a new pact is reached – Zion-Benton union members decided to strike based on the myth that they had been “working without a contract” since July. As usual, salary and health insurance costs were the sticking points in negotiations. The union and school board struck a tentative agreement early Tuesday morning, though taxpayers will be kept in the dark about the details until the contract becomes official.
Here's a report from the same group on a strike in Pennsylvania:
Neshaminy teachers walk out on students
Teachers strike comes after four years of bitter negotiations
By Ben Velderman
NESHAMINY, Pa. – Contract talks between theNeshaminy school board and the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers came to a screeching halt on Monday, after the 654-member teachers union officially went on strike against the district’s students and taxpayers. The strike represents a low point for the union, which has spent nearly four years trying to strong-arm the struggling school district into a teachers’ contract it could only afford by draining its savings account or by raising taxes. The union’s ugly behavior continued at Tuesday night’s packed-out school board meeting, which featured “dueling chants” from union members (“Negotiate!”) and school board supporters (“Teach our kids!”), reports WPVI-TV. The union wants a three-year deal that includes annual pay raises of around 3 percent, and $9 million in retroactive pay for the three years of missed longevity increases. The union refuses to pay more than 8 percent of its health insurance costs, reports Philly.com. “You want more from me?” asked taxpayer Angela Manning at Tuesday’s board meeting. “I can’t give you anything else. I’m already working two jobs trying to support my family.” Parent Donna Lorenz agreed. “People are losing jobs. I don’t know how they expect to get what they want,” Lorenz told WPVI-TV. “It’s impossible.” The Neshaminy school board has countered with a three-year deal that includes annual raises of 3.1 percent, in exchange for teachers paying 15 percent of their health insurance costs and foregoing a $27,500 cash bonus upon retirement. The NFT, whose members are the second-highest paid teachers in Pennsylvania, swatted down the offer, calling it an “insult.” State law requires that the teachers return back to work by January 20, but the union could pursue another strike later this school year. The district's long-running drama with its teachers union makes it clear that Big Labor’s “us-versus-them” mentality is a destructive force in our schools. What’s less clear is why Pennsylvania’s lawmakers have failed to ban teacher strikes altogether.