Public Employees, Unions, Schools

Found at gullyborg via Upper Left Coast.

There is a strike looming for the Oregon Trail School District.

To address his second point first, his conclusion is

Making threats of violence is a crime. … Any striking teacher who harms, or threatens to harm, a substitute teacher should never be allowed near our children again.

I agree fully. But the last I heard, it was specifically not a crime for a union picketer to threaten and in some cases to use violence. If these laws are still on the books, they should be repealed or invalidated soonest. Returning to the first point,

Now I have always thought that teacher’s unions should be barred from striking, the way air traffic controllers and other unions are.

This makes sense to me, but in an inverted sort of way. It’s a rational reaction to an unsane situation. To hit the high points, because

… the Supreme Court has found a constitutional right to an education.

and because

when a public union strikes, there is often no alternative for the people .

and finally

This amounts to sheer blackmail, especially when the service withheld is essential to the public as a whole.


Congress made it illegal for certain unions, such as the air traffic controllers, to strike. But Congress didn’t take it far enough. As long as there is no viable alternative to government, it should be illegal for ANY government employee to strike.

I find this to be a rational conclusion, but also wrong. Taking a government job should not be contingent on giving up your civil rights. Organizing to negotiate collectively is the best way to balance the power of the employer. People should not have to give that up when the employer happens to also be the sole employer available in that line of work as well as possessing a monopoly on the use of force. If that sacrifice IS necessary, it should be applied to the smallest number of people possible. Maybe there’s a better answer.

The key phrase in the problem seems to be “As long as there is no viable alternative”. Perhaps the root of the problem lies in having the government actually provide the services. If schools were run by a series of private companies, a strike against one would be of little effect on students. Perhaps the real answer to dealing with public employee strikes is to simply reduce the number of public employees to the bare minimum required to provide services that cannot be provided any other way?

The best way to deal this problem is to reduce the number of public employees to the bare minimum. Privatize and outsource the rest of the work. Eliminate the unnecessary government monopolies. Then this problem (and others) simply disappear.


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