But what happens when unions put their own interests ahead of the public’s? What happens to the working man then — or, in the case of Chicago teachers strike, the working man’s kids?
Answer: Organized labor doesn’t care.
Fortunately, the much-watched teachers strike in President Obama’s adopted hometown came to an end Tuesday, when representatives for the teachers voted to go back to the classrooms.
That’s great news for the Windy City. When teachers weren’t working, 350,000 kids in Chicago were losing.
Yet the union’s decision to walk for a week instead of teach should give all Americans pause, even here in Georgia, a right-to-work state.
This strike was a classic example of greed trumping need.
No wonder why Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s former right-hand-man, was outraged and did all he could to end it.
Last weekend, for example, Chicago’s public school leaders offered teachers a generous 16 percent raise over four years in a new contract. That’s right, 16 percent. Guaranteed.
Who gets a pay boost like that in today’s economy? Yet the union balked.
The union also had problems about who controlled schools and classrooms. It didn’t want longer school days. It wanted principals to have less authority. It wanted less attention paid to teacher evaluations, as they related to student academic growth. This protected the jobs of substandard performers.
Dedicated, professional teachers do vital work. They don’t get paid enough. Unfortunately, the trouble with teachers unions is that they have a fatal blind spot — they see all teachers in the same light. Everyone is a superstar, even those who are ineffective.
That’s why the “winners” in this just-ended labor dispute may not be the teachers, the students or taxpayers.
It’s Chicago’s charter schools, where organized labor can’t reach.