Monday, December 17, 2018

How To Avert A Strike

It's an odd thing-- we almost always talk about teacher strikes as if they are a choice of teachers and their unions. Yet, the power to avert a strike lies on the other side of the table.

Here's what management needs to understand.

Teachers don't want to strike. No union committee sits down and says, "Well, the board is ready to talk to us with a batch of proposals to get this contract under way-- but screw that. We really want to strike instead." I've been through two strikes in my career-- one as local president-- and I'm here to tell you that generally speaking, teachers would rather do almost anything else in the entire world than go out on strike.

So if your teachers are striking, it's because the board has convinced them that nothing else is an option.

If you are a bad member sayin, "I wish they would do anything rather than walk out," I am going to ask you what other options you will give them. Will you agree to meet to bargain in good faith? Will you agree to send negotiators who could speak for the board? Will you make an honest effort to consider varied and creative solutions? Will you deal with them honestly and straightforwardly? Will you agree to do whatever it takes to negotiate a mutually agreeable solution and not waste anyone's time?

If a teachers' union is striking, it means they only see two options available-- agree to whatever the board wants, or strike.

Now, I won 't lie. There have been union locals that have been so unwilling to strike that they have buckled and agreed to accept what was offered. But if you think the school districts didn't pay a price in morale, you're kidding yourself.

This is the funny thing about strikes-- the power in the district-teacher relationship is distributed in such a way that only the district can provide an alternative to striking. Only the district can say, "Here's a thing we can do that we believe will get us to an agreement." Well, the union can say it, but only the district is in a position to make it happen.

No, if you're a school district that wants to avoid a strike, then offer an alternative. Pro tip: "This is our final offer" is not such an offer. It is a dare that means "Take this offer or go on strike." Do districts sometimes provoke a strike because they think they will win the strike? They surly do-- and they are fools, because nobody wins a strike.

The dream sometimes is to "break" the union snd the teachers. People who follow this strategy are also fools, the kind of idiots who think that an organization works best when powered by broken people. This only makes sense if you think the point of the organization is to feed the ego, power and wealth of the people at the top. This only makes sense if your organization is run by broken people who want to break the world and see it burn.

2018 has been a big year for teacher strikes. That tells us far more about the people in power than it does about teachers, because one things about teachers has never changed-- they don't want too strike.  If you want to stop them from striking, then offer an alternative, and not a threat.

1 comment:

  1. Peter,

    L.A.'s corporate ed. reform School Board Member Nick Melvoin --- with absolutely ZERO evidence --- recently accused UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl of having secret, selfish interests in pushing for a strike.

    Melvoin said that Alex only pushing for a strike to advance Alex's post-UTLA political career. Melvoin said that Alex is pushing for a strike because a successful strike would bolster Alex's reputation so he can run for state-wide political office.

    Melvoin did this at a Q & A at a school with parents on December 5, which thankfully, someone recorded and uploaded to YouTube:

    (NOTE: he uses the Fox News-patented weasel words "Some people think that ... ")

    (3:48 - )
    (3:48 - )

    NICK MELVOIN: "Some people think that (the reason for the strike) is that he (Caputo-Pearl) wants to run for state office. Some people say that he wants a political show of strength."

    PARENT: (skeptical, to MELVOIN) "We've heard the same about YOU, to be honest."

    Indeed, Melvoin has been accused of using the office of School Board Member as a political stepping stone. If that's the case, this would qualify as Freudian projection.

    A little later, at 4:48, Melvoin says that teachers may need to strike for a day or two "just to get it out of their system."

    Not buying his baloney, a parent fires back, "I'm sorry. We're worried about our children, and you're telling us that (teachers)'re just doing it (a strike) 'just to get it out of their system?!' That's ridiculous!"

    Another parent chimes then in, "My child's life is at stake here!" (referring to dropping her child off at an unsafe, bare-bones staffed school during a strike)