Friday, September 16, 2011

A Word of Advice

Fire them all.

Teachers in Tacoma have decided it's a good idea to go on strike over things like pay, reassignments, and the size of classes.   Apparently, school administration has gotten a judge to tell the teachers' union that their walkout is illegal under state law and to order them back to work.  Teachers then held a vote, and decided it was better to flout the orders of a judge with precedent behind him, so they continue to picket instead of teach.

This reminds me of a rather similar situation from my childhood.  In 1981, the union representing air traffic controllers, another group of public employees, declared a strike.  They were told to return to work by someone with the authority of precedent and the law behind him. When they didn't, almost 13,000 people were fired.

The law says, and is affirmed by the judge's order, that the teachers in Tacoma do not have the right to walk out.  Don't like it?  Get a lawyer and sue to have the law declared unconstitutional.  Either that, or work with the legislature in Washington to get the law changed.  Until then, failure to follow the law or the order of a judge runs the risk of consequences.

The leadership of the schools in Tacoma should tell the union and the press that any teacher that doesn't come in on Monday and start teaching can expect to have their personal items mailed to them along with their last check.  Period. Dot.

I said it before, and I'll say it again:  Employment is not a right.  It doesn't matter to me whether you're working for a too-big-to-fail corporation, the corner grocery run by a little old lady, or the government.  No-one promises you a job.  You have to earn your continued employment every minute of every day. 

You have to have at least some college education to be a teacher, so by definition someone who can teach at a public school should have some skill that they could trade for money in the open market.  Teachers' unions like to spout off about how talented its members are, and what a sacrifice they are making in taking low paying teaching jobs because they put the education of children before they put their own economic well-being.  It's time for the teachers of Tacoma to put their money where their mouths are.  They should take their dismissal for participating in an illegal strike, wear it as a badge of honor, and start looking for other employment.  Either that, or go back to the classroom and continue to negotiate through their union to get what they want.

That being said, if the law is unconstitutional, or the law is changed to allow strikes by teachers, then have at it.  Stay out of the workplace as long as you want to.  No-one says you have to work anywhere you don't want to.  Eventually either you'll come to some agreement with the administration or the administration will find someone else who wants to teach for what they're offering and hire them as a 'temporary' replacement.  Just don't look for a lot of sympathy from me the next time you complain about how little you get from strike pay. 

Don't take this as a condemnation of all unions and all strikes.  Unions do have a valid role in the marketplace.  I believe, however, that a lot of unions and their members lose sight of the fact that sucking more and more out of the company kills the golden goose, and can eventually kill the entire flock.  Ask the unions for steelworkers and automotive assemblers whether the lucrative contracts they got in the 1960's, coupled with union intransigence in the 1970's and 1980's, did anything to keep the companies that employed them viable once they had to compete with companies that could crank out quality goods and services at a much lower price.

The administration shouldn't use the threat of firings as a club to silence the union, but the union shouldn't walk out when it doesn't have the right to and not expect something adverse to happen to its members. 

4 comments:

Newbius said...

Fire them all, then declare the Union in breach of agreement and disband them too. Revoke their charter.

It is well past time to begin with a clean sheet of paper WRT public employee unions.

Old NFO said...

Agree with Newbius... President Reagan did it, but I doubt the Obamallama has the balls...

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Circa 1970, the Mayor of Waukegan, Illinois fired the police department for going on strike via a "sick in," aka "the Blue Flu."

Ruth said...

I've been of the opinion for a while, that a well run union is a good thing, for both employees and employers. the problem is that most of the larger, longer run, unions have gotten way to big for their britches and need to be taken down a notch, or two.

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