Letters to the Editor

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STRIKE: Teachers used their only leverage

Letter by Scott Thompson, Puyallup on Sep. 26, 2011 at 3:07 pm with 12 Comments »
September 26, 2011 3:11 pm

Re: “Thank Gregoire for ending Tacoma’s pointless strike” (editorial, 9-25).

The News Tribune seems to think that the strike was all a big waste of time. The teachers made their point by sticking to their principles and being willing to take the criticism.

Parents often make reasonable requests of their children only to be ignored until more pressure is brought to bear on the issue. The potential of losing a game system, toy or privilege is not nearly as powerful as actually carrying through on that promise. Businesses react when customers threaten to take their business elsewhere or cancel their subscriptions.

Teachers are a labor union, and the threat of a strike is their final bargaining chip when they are unsuccessful with other methods. This was an agonizing decision they made, and the high percentage of teachers willing to strike tells you that problems existed. The bottom line is that it is all about the leverage you apply to the problem.

Leave a comment Comments → 12
  1. BigSwingingRichard says:

    And why shouldn’t we strike, we don’t lose any pay,
    We have kids over a barrel, they must do as we say.
    Their parents are lemmings, in fact the whole town,
    “You must pass all levies, raise taxes, don’t frown”.
    If you don’t there’ll be trouble, all schools will fall down!
    No football, no rallies, no cheerleaders near,
    And teachers will never, ever work here.

    We refuse to retire. And why should we go?
    We’re not the last hired, our seniority’s not low.
    The longer we stay, the higher our pay,
    And it’s not like we work a whole year anyway.
    We get paid all the same, there is safety in numbers,
    Pay does not distinguish, the shrewd from the bumblers.

    We are the entitled, so just put us first.
    Who cares if our schools are some of the worst?
    Merit does not matter, evaluations have flaws.
    We’ve broken the rules, we’ll keep breaking the laws.
    We ignore judges, to go back to work,
    Just try to fine us, throw at us the book.

    We have Governor Chrissie to stand by our sides,
    To get us what we want, so no judge decides,
    Our actions illegal, and injunctions do matter.
    So go tell the judge, he cannot make us sadder.
    We will do what we want, we will do as we please,
    And we are all happy, quite happy indeed.

  2. harleyrider1 says:

    Agonizing? Really?

    What was at risk? The fact that they could extend their summer vacation of 180-days with pay? The fact that they would never be fined? The fact that they would get back-pay? The fact that they would have less responsibility with a smaller number of children in their class? The fact that this strike made them one of the highest hourly paid public employees in Pierce County – and close to the top in the state of Washington?


  3. What leverage do we apply to fix the current one to two billion dollar hole in the State’s budget? Do we, the tax payers, go on strike?

  4. “nanook says:
    September 27, 2011 at 9:11 am
    What leverage do we apply to fix the current one to two billion dollar hole in the State’s budget? Do we, the tax payers, go on strike?”

    You already have when you voted to require a supermajority to raise taxes. The legislature’s hands are tied preventing any reasonable tax increase. Current tax loads are at a 60 year low. A successsful government must have a way to raise revenue when it is needed and reasonable. A 2/3 requirement is never reasonable. I bet it would take an impending invasion to get the legislature to raise revenue and even then I’m not sure the TEA bag folks would get it.

  5. commoncents says:

    Richard – your clever little poem contains a number of inaccuracies – not the least of which that pay caps out for teachers at 16 years. And if they work 30 years (typically age 55) they can opt for early retirement and receive 70% of their accrued benefit. Most retire at 55 and then supplement income as a sub….sorry to burst your bubble. They system actually encourages turnover more than the public sector does.

  6. No Scott, referring to your last sentence, “the bottom line is all about the leverage you apply to the problem”… The bottom line is ALL about how the teachers and their unions can enhance their own agenda at the expense of the tax paying public, that’s the bottom line.. They don’t give a frigg about the kids.

  7. David1964 says:

    “And if they work 30 years (typically age 55) they can opt for early retirement and receive 70% of their accrued benefit. Most retire at 55 and then supplement income as a sub…”

    Only teachers from plan 1 (pre-1978) can retire at 55. Anyone who started teaching after 1978 (33 years ago) must work til 65 to collect full retirement. Those of us who started teaching right out of college will have taught for about 43, with our income capped after 15 years of teaching, unless there are cost of living increases or raises.

  8. Time to limit collective bargaining in our state to control these out of control public unions…..

  9. BigSwingingRichard says:

    To commoncents:

    I noticed you did not try to disagree with the line;

    “Pay does not distinguish the shrewd from the bumblers”

    Why is that?

  10. commoncents says:

    Because I believe the current system actually serves to hold down pay. I can see it now…give a Principal the ability to name the pay? whooo hooo!!! Party time…

    I have also found that in the private non-union world there are bunglers who are overpaid as well. I also believe that the majority of bunglers wash out of the education system within 5 years because they can’t handle the workload – which is why most of the coaches of big programs are now hired from outside of the system rather than teaching history or drivers ed as they did in our day.

  11. TSkidmore says:

    Great letter Scott…it is amazing how a letter supporting working people who actually support the education of our children instead of the stupid ideas of business bureaucrats brings out the rants of the authoritarian personalities in the comments to this letter. No need to wonder where the American Hitler would get his supporters!

  12. commoncents says:

    it’s not that I don’t think that there is not waste and mismanagement or even that unions aren’t self-serving. I just don’t believe that they are the root of all evil that you and a few others think. It’s my belief that they can be effectively managed by strong leadership. Our states problems (and those of these school districts) are cause by poor management not out of control unions. Those pensions? They’d be just fine if legislature had funded them as the actuaries had intended…

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