Let’s be fair here. Teachers deserve more pay. Okay. Here in the Cumberland Valley School District, The school board made several reasonable (and some would say, beyond reasonable) offers. Higher than COLA pay raises. Lower than average health care costs with better than average benefits. Making the pay raises retroactive. The School Board seems to know the meaning of the word “negotiate.”
What have the teachers offered as compromise? From all reports, the teachers’ union has simply dug in their heels, and tried to convince the populace that the school board is failing to give them a pay raise.
Who wins, and who loses on a strike?
Teachers think they will win, obviously. They have nothing to lose. They strike, they come back and teach, and even if they now accept the latest offer they get their full 9 months of pay (with a bonus check–remember the retroactive bit?)
The school board may or may not meet the (un-reported) demands of the teacher’s union. But regardless, the school board doesn’t “lose” anything.
The students. They lose, because they have a loss of continuity in their education plan. They lose because for months now, teachers have been fostering a “hostile learning environment” keeping the students (and parents) wondering if, in 48 hours, there would be a strike. On top of that, at least one teacher told his students that, if there was a strike, he would be sending a “work packet” home for them to complete during the strike. In addition, they lose because any plans they may have had for a summer (including summer jobs, to help them earn money for, among other things, college) have to be adjusted.
The parents: For those parents of young children that work, there will be an increased cost either through lost wages, or increased childcare costs. What about those parents that can’t afford the additional costs of childcare? Well–they can just stay home from work, right? So for a few, the choice is either pay for more childcare, or lose income. Additionally, parents may have had plans for summer “break.” Imagine a job where you have to request time off for vacation, and schedule it in advance. You know those jobs–the ones where you work 12 months a year?
The taxpayers: Regardless of the final outcome, it is guaranteed that taxpayers will be paying teachers more money to teach. This is a burden that taxpayers are willing to reasonably carry to provide a good education for the children in the community. I suspect though that taxpayers are keenly aware of what is reasonable, and what is unreasonable. It would seem to me at least that unreasonable is a teachers’ union that fails to negotiate. Of course, a “double whammy” exists for the parents, here. They have the burden of increased child-care costs, only to be rewarded with an (undoubtedly) increased tax burden.
One final thought: The teachers don’t “lose” anything here. There is no cost to them for striking. In most strikes, the unions have to balance the near-term lost wages with the long term gains. They must also consider the lost good-will with their customers who may well choose to go elsewhere with their shopping dollars. In this case, students are required, by law, to attend school. The teachers will come back and teach the remaining class days–and get paid for a full year (did I mention the “bonus check” due to retroactive pay?) The teachers essentially get to hold everyone (especially students) hostage–to achieve not a “fair” contract, but one that is “over the top.”
The Teachers Union. Unreasonable. Uncompromising. Unsupportable.