Sunday, August 27, 2006

Hating On Unions

I'm always a little disappointed to see people even entertaining the possibility that the answer to this question is "no":
When teachers and their employers are at loggerheads over salaries and working conditions, should they be able to strike, thereby closing the schools?
I mean, that's the point of having a union, right? You're not left with much when you take away the credible threat of a strike.

You heard the same sort of union skepticism when the public transit workers were striking in New York City last year. There was lots of, "Oh, I support unions in general, but I really don't think they should be able to strike when it's so inconvenient for other people," and , "But why do they have to strike right now?"

If you want people to work, you either meet their demands, or you come to terms with the fact that they're not going to do it. What's the alternative supposed to be?


Dr. Homeslice said...

Heh. Well put. There's never a good time to have a baby....or a strike.

Kevin said...

It's a valid answer if you don't care about the working conditions of teachers vis a vis your kid's education.

We probably both agree that national/public interest takes precedence over labor rights at SOME point, even if that point is the guys that keep the power grid running.

Paul said...

Yeah, there's definitely some point at which a group of workers lacks the right to strike, but I think we're talking about pretty marginal, life-and-death sorts of cases.

I actually thought the NYC transit strike was a very serious strike in terms of its (at least potential) consequences, but I still didn't think it came close to being an unacceptable strike. Just the opposite, really; it highlighted just how important those workers really were to the functioning of the city. It was, in large part, their importance that justified the strike.