We need to change state law to prevent another extended teachers’ strike. The unions will certainly resist this.
The Tacoma strike worked well for the union and its members who stayed off the job for six school days following a judge’s order to return to their classrooms. They suffered no consequences, and the district ceded all three issues.
But the community suffered.
We could not procure this government service elsewhere during the strike. Thousands of parents paid extra day care costs and lost precious vacation time. We had no say in designating strike makeup days. Nearly half a million dollars in food and other strike-related expenses was wasted.
I will continue to support my children’s teachers on the job and in the classroom. But I cannot support or condone their contempt of court.
Further reductions in state funding for teacher salaries and smaller classrooms are likely. Long-term consequences of the strike could include levy and bond failures, resulting in even harder choices.
The Legislature must affirm that public employee work stoppages are illegal and strengthen the ban by defining meaningful sanctions for unions and members who defy it. This will be a difficult but necessary debate.
We all should urge our legislators to ensure that widespread harm to communities from public employees’ strikes does not happen again.