DEAD ON – AT 9:18 A.M. ET: Reader Joseph J. Gallick alerts us to a superb piece in City Journal on the impact of the current Chicago teachers' strike. It gives us the quote of the day:
If Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has spent the last 18 months painting a portrait of public-employee unions as intransigent and selfish, the Chicago Teachers Union this week provided him with confirmation. On Monday, 25,000 Chicago teachers (average salary: $76,000 before benefits) walked out of their classrooms, leaving nearly 350,000 schoolchildren and their parents in the lurch. The teachers are fighting to protect their lavish pay and benefit packages and also trying to stave off a new accountability plan that would evaluate their effectiveness using students’ test scores.
The Chicago strike serves as a counterpoint to events in Wisconsin after Walker’s election in 2010. In a protracted, contentious battle, Walker virtually eliminated collective bargaining for public employees, weakening the unions’ power significantly. Illinois is now demonstrating what Wisconsin might have looked like without Walker’s reforms. Those reforms didn’t come easy: for a year and a half, Wisconsin was paralyzed by demonstrations and union disruptions. But the union tantrums in Wisconsin clearly backfired, and in a recall election this past June, Walker won by a greater margin than he had in 2010, against the same opponent. Walker is now a national star on the Republican scene, while public-union membership is plummeting.
There’s no reason to believe that the Chicago teachers’ strike won’t similarly backfire on union loyalists.
COMMENT: Please read the whole piece. It's worth it. Chicago, the president's home city, is a mess. He hasn't said anything about it, and we wonder whether he'll still acknowledge the wreckage as his home. Obama will, we think, throw an entire city under the bus.
Sometimes it takes one major strike to convince the public that something is wrong with the relationship between public-employee unions and the public. Maybe the Chicago strike, which seems unjust, will do it.
By the way, we're happy to see Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with whom we often disagree, showing some spine. Maybe he can give some to his former boss, the president.
September 13, 2012