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The poor and disabled are hurt by this strike of choice

Post by TNT Editorial Board / The News Tribune on Sep. 13, 2011 at 7:46 pm with 8 Comments »
September 13, 2011 5:53 pm

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

This morning, the Tacoma School District will ask Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff to order the city’s striking teachers back into their classrooms. If the decision hinges on the law – and the welfare of children and their families – there’s only one way he can go.

In its negotiations with the district, the Tacoma Education Association has been pushing for contract provisions that other unions might be pushing for under the same circumstances: protection from pay cuts, additional work and the judgment of principals.

Understandable. What’s not understandable is the strike itself. The teachers could keep on working while their union leaders keep on bargaining, something routinely done when a union contract expires while a new one is being negotiated.

In voting to strike Monday, the TEA and its members showed precious little empathy for the district’s largely low-income families.

Concerns about what’s happening to schoolchildren are callously dismissed. The mantra: “Schools aren’t day care centers.”

Actually, they very much are. Schools aren’t in the babysitting business, but they’re the most important places children are cared for outside their own homes.

Poverty is a core issue in this strike. Most of Tacoma’s schoolchildren come from homes of very modest income. About 60 percent of them – more than 17,000 – are eligible for subsidized lunches or breakfasts, a common benchmark of economic distress.

For many Tacoma children, those school lunches and breakfasts are the only reliable source of nutritious food during the school year. By keeping them out of school, the strike is denying them that nutrition.

As the district has pointed out, the strike – which costs teachers nothing – is hurting other vulnerable people. Roughly 800 district employees, including food-service workers and classroom assistants, do not have the guaranteed salaries teachers enjoy.

They tend to have low incomes, they work by the hour, and they don’t get paid when they don’t work. The strike could devastate them if it persists.

The strike has also barred the schoolhouse doors to roughly 4,000 special education and disabled children. For many of them, the schools are refuges where they receive attention and structure they don’t get anywhere else. “Day care centers” in the broadest and most important sense.

This strike is hurting people who can’t afford to be hurt. Imagine a single working mother barely making ends meet, barely able to buy school clothes for her children, living on the edge, losing precious wages if she is suddenly forced to stay home with children she assumed would be in school.

Judge Chushcoff, we trust, will keep such parents in mind as he makes his ruling on this strike of choice.

Leave a comment Comments → 8
  1. If he does, what then? Will an injunction actually force teachers back into the schools? Even if the judge imposes a daily fine it’s not likely to end the strike in under a week.

    I am disappointed that all negotiation has stopped. At this point, I don’t care who is right I just want both parties to come to the table and talk. Schools full of unwilling teachers will not be happy places, in the unlikely event an injunction is able to force them back in. Just get back to the table and make some hard choices, and we could have this done by Thursday afternoon.

    Some very good advice that I am taking to heart, and the editorial board should too:

  2. ltkeffer says:

    The courts will do what they always have in these cases…… nothing useful. They will hand off the issue back to the legislature who will also do…. nothing.

  3. BigSwingingRichard says:

    What, are you saying this strike is not “for the kids” and perhaps the teachers have only their own selfish self interests in mind? Are you saying teachers have shown their true colors?

    Given all this, the poverty, free food, poor people of the district, is the TNT going to consider the economic hardship of paying excess property taxes to pay the salaries of people who participate in an illegal strike?

    Will you support the next levy because of all the kids who eat their meals at school or will you recommend a no vote so the parents themselves might have more money to feed their own kids?

  4. why are teachers starving our children

  5. olympicmtn says:

    AND THE UNION NOW BULLY JUDGE CHUSCHOFF for ABIDING BY STATE LAW (in essence do what we want or you will be bullied out of office for following state law!!!)

    “one teacher, who would not give his name. “I will not go against my colleagues.” Asked if he would defy a judge’s order to go back to work, he replied: “The people elect the judge. The judge better have their ear or he won’t get back into office.”

    Read more:

  6. olympicmtn says:

    Here is a reality check for Teachers complaining about transfers

    1) you’re an exempt employee
    2) you are a professional
    3) exempt professionals in the corporate world work at various sites continuously to sell a product and keep their exports afloat.

    Do you really think a professional exempt employee in the Seattle area working at major corporations can tell their manager that “hey I don’t want to work at the other site” even though I am employed for your company in the Puget Sound area?

    FACT: You are a Tacoma School Employee. The DISTRICT HAS A RIGHT to move you to another Tacoma School in THEIR DISTRICT.

    What is so hard to comprehend about this fact?

    Ask any professional at any Puget Sound corporation whether they can tell their manager that they do not want to move 15 miles for the same job.

    Your are in never never land in the professional world.

  7. TSkidmore says:

    Oh the TNT is so concerned about “the poor people”…hogwash – same old anti-union – attack the working class crap we read continually….

  8. joepublic says:

    What’s stopping the district from operating the cafeterias at all its schools so kids can eat breakfast and lunch? The food services staff is not on strike. Teachers generally don’t supervise students at mealtime.

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