Waukegan District 60 school teachers have been out on strike for four weeks, making outrageous demands for raises and benefit increases that few working Americans enjoy.
The School Board’s two-year offer includes a 4 percent raise in year one and additional 3.25 percent raise in year two, for all teachers with one to 22 years of experience. Teachers in year 23 would get 5.75 percent raises in years one and two. For teachers with more than 23 years of experience, a 3.10 percent is offered in year one and an additional 3 percent raise in year two.
All teachers would get fully-funded single payer health care in both years. [My emphasis]
The union, however, is still asking for a three-year contract, with fully funded health care for all three.
[Kenzo Shibata of the Illinois Federation of Teachers] said teachers don’t want to be back at the negotiating table again in less than two years.
Aw, poor things. Of course, they don't want to negotiate a new contract after two years, but with those terms they still have a great deal. They apparently are unaware of the difficulties that so many American workers (at least in the private sector) are facing. But that's what happen when you give public servants the kind of leverage that teacher and other public sector unions enjoy.
Police, fire, teachers and other public worker unions are placed in a superior bargaining position by denying to the public essential services. Teachers do so by using children to win their generous benefits. playing on the anxiety of parents, especially employed parents who now have to find someone to take care of their kids. Some parents seem more upset by the cancellation of sporting events, and as misplaced as their priorities are, their pressure to reopen the schools can be just as demanding as parents who are more worried by the number of teaching days lost.
Once upon a time, public employee strikes were illegal, including in Illinois. That reflected the viewpoint of President Franklin Roosevelt (no raging right-winger, he):
[M]ilitant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. . . . [A] strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable.
We can see the result of "unthinkable and intolerable" public employee strikes in Illinois, where they have parlayed the power of the strike, whether actually used or merely threatened, to play on public fears.
However, most states forbid strikes by public employees, and the majority of collective bargaining agreements prohibit them.23In 2005, Indiana rescinded public employees’ collective bargaining rights by executive order.24 More recently, Ohio passed a law rescinding collective bargaining rights for all public employees (it has since been repealed),25 and Wisconsin revoked most collective bargaining rights for school employees and state workers.26 In 2011, Massachusetts lawmakers limited municipal unions’ ability to bargain over healthcare costs.27
It takes a courageous public body, such as the Waukegan school board, to stand up to such extortion. If a public employee union has the right to strike, the struck public body ought to have the right to call in permanent replacements the moment that the strike begins.
For information on my award-winning historical novel, "Madness: The War of 1812," visit: http://www.madness1812.com
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