By ART CHANCE
Those of us with a bawdy sense of humor are familiar with an old joke about the three greatest lies; I’ll add a fourth lie to the list: “It’s for the children.”
I’ll wait patiently for one of my regular trolls to post something that the National Extortion Association — excuse me, Education Association or the American Federation of Teachers — has ever done that benefited any entity other than the union, the Democrat Party, or both.
Note that I wrote “benefited” the union, not even benefitted teachers; teachers are just the useful idiots and cash cows, though lots of them are dogmatic leftists who are happy to play the role.
Now I’m an old retired guy and I don’t much like my repose to be disturbed, but I had a busman’s holiday and spent some time actually reading the Illinois Educational Collective Bargaining law and the Chicago Teachers’ Union contract with the Chicago Board of Education.
The teacher union shutdown of the Chicago schools exemplifies everything that is wrong with public sector collective bargaining and Democrat politics. The teachers’ union has absolutely no legal right to hold Chicago’s children hostage.
Now, I’m no fan of Chicago. I’m a redneck Southerner at heart and I learned Robert Toombs’ statement about the Great Chicago Fire at an early age; he stepped off the train and announced to the welcoming crowd, “Chicago’s burning, and the wind is in our favor,” although there are various versions of the quote and the story. Well, it may be Carl Sandburg’s “City With Big Shoulders” but a lot of those big shoulders were union and mob thugs in a city that has been hopelessly corrupt for at least a century and a half.
Speaking of corruption, Chicago’s former Mayor Richard Daley — the younger one, not the1968 riots one — had enough of the Chicago Teachers Union and got the Illinois Legislature to drastically curtail the union’s bargaining rights. As a display of political muscle, the amendment only applied to the Chicago union. It kept the Illinois bargaining statute intact for the rest of the state.
If I made a call to “central casting” for a “union goon,” I’d be happy if they sent me someone who looked and acted like current Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Pritzker did the Democrat thing and made a deal to make things right for the Chicago teachers and undid Daley’s changes to the law to give the Chicago Teachers Union its bargaining power back.
You know it’s bad when you’re applauding something a member of the Daley crime syndicate did and criticizing the guy who undid it.
The Chicago Teachers won’t go back to work and won’t let the schools reopen. The Board of Education is negotiating with them, thus far to no avail. The teacher bargaining law has the usual “terms and conditions of employment” bargaining duty.
Those are words from the federal Labor-Management Relations Act and have an 80-odd year history of adjudication at the federal level and since the words are in most state bargaining laws 60 or so years of adjudication in state labor boards and courts. People who do labor relations know pretty well what that means.
Here is the “term and condition of employment” set out in the CTU’s collective bargaining agreement:
“14-2. Situations Likely to Cause Serious Harm. When the UNION determines that a situation has arisen that is likely to cause serious physical or emotional harm to bargaining unit employees, the UNION may bring it to the attention of the Chief Executive Officer who shall assess the situation within three school days. The assessment shall include on-site inspection where appropriate. After performing the assessment, the Chief Executive Officer and the UNION President or their designees shall meet to discuss the situation and explore possible solutions.”
That is not a mandatory bargaining duty. CTU’s persistence in demanding bargaining is in itself an unfair labor practice as they are persisting in demanding bargaining on a subject that is not a mandatory subject of bargaining.
A responsible employer, which is another way of saying a Republican employer would,if it were being nice, file an unfair labor practice complaint. But since Illinois is a hopelessly corrupt state, the employer would lose before the Board and spend years in court while the Union kept the schools closed.
If I ran it, which means it wouldn’t be nice, I’d just declare impasse and order them back to work. If they shopped for a hack judge that would rule for the union, I’d just close the whole school system and stop paying them for staying home and faking online teaching.
What everyone needs to understand is that these teachers, just like ours here in Anchorage, haven’t missed a single day of pay during the Scamdemic. I’ll guarantee you that the teachers unions will become much more amenable after teachers miss a pay check and can’t make the car or mortgage payment. Very few public sector unions have strike funds and none of them has strike funds robust enough to start making car and mortgage payments for their members. Very few public employees have any significant savings; they have leave, often with cash value, and they have their retirement to fall back on. My rule was that I just had to find enough courage in my principals to make them miss one paycheck and the game became “The Ransom of Red Chief.”
The board has been conspicuous by its silence in this, which is likely because they’re all Teachers Union chattel. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has taken the point. In my experience even union-backed executives get tired of union defiance.
In fact, the only times in my career I’ve ever been allowed to simply take the gloves off and smash them was under Democrats. We’ll see if Lightfoot is up too it. I don’t know the powers of the mayor over the school board in Chicago, but since she’s stepped into it, she must think she has some power over them other than her bully pulpit. Failing that, maybe a few thousand citizens with pitchforks can bring some clarity to the school board and the union’s executive board.
Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon. Chance has been a columnist for Must Read Alaska since 2016.