Sure, we know there’s still some confusion over what the definition of “is” is. And that “truth isn’t truth,” apparently. So the state teachers union, the WEA, isn’t breaking any records for duplicitousness when it comes to its muddled messaging on whether teacher strikes are legal or not.
Which is a bit like Adam Sandler saying, hey, somebody else out there has probably made more bad movies than he has. True, maybe, but hardly reassuring.
Local teachers unions all over the state are striking, or threatening to strike. The new school year is just around the corner, but teachers are prepared to walk off the job in Longview, Vancouver, Tri-Cities, Mukilteo, Spokane, Highline – and many other places. In over 100 districts, teachers unions and administrators are still wrangling over pay.
The WEA and local unions are going for broke this year – with a strategy to essentially bankrupt districts. That teacher strikes are illegal doesn’t matter to them. That many of them are in the middle of current contracts also doesn’t matter to them. Work stoppages are bad for kids? Doesn’t matter.
Why is it happening?
To wrap up the long-running McCleary education funding case, the state allocated even more money for K-12 schools this year. Some of that is meant for higher salaries. But the WEA is determined to grab all of it, consequences be damned.
That the entire pot of money wasn’t meant for salaries means little to the WEA. It wants to grab the new money, now – and if the Legislature still wants to fund other priorities such as smaller class sizes, it’ll just have to find other money to do it.
Some local unions are asking for raises topping 30%. If the unions get what they want, or even come close, the districts will soon be in the red.
And that’s exactly what the WEA wants. It wants local districts locking in unaffordable contracts that basically force the state to step in and increase K-12 funding even higher, above the already astronomical increases in recent years.
Editorial boards around the state are urging caution, but the WEA is throwing caution to the wind. It’s actually bragging about massive teacher salaries that far, far outpace average salaries. The unions are counting on two sources of money that soon won’t be available to cover higher salaries: Higher local levy rates, which are set to be capped next year, and class size reduction funds, which will disappear next year if districts aren’t actually spending it to lower class sizes.
The Seattle Times asked districts to be responsible with their budgets: “To avoid returning to a broken system, districts must hold the line when it comes to negotiating teachers’ raises, and not award more than they can afford.” It also noted the new 20% raises in Edmonds, and the top-end teacher salary there: $114,272.
So are teacher strikes legal?
The WEA would have you believe the whole subject of whether or not teacher strikes are even legal is somehow murky or ambiguous. It isn’t – teacher strikes are clearly illegal. In fact, under state law public employee strikes of any kind are illegal. That covers public school teachers too.
The president of Vancouver’s teachers union asserted this week, “Judges have not ruled completely whether strikes are illegal.” But that simply isn’t true.
In fact, a judge in a 2015 Pasco strike case not only ruled that teachers there were barred from striking, he helpfully included in his ruling previous rulings around the state establishing the illegality of strikes:
- King County Superior Court Judge DuBuque (2002): “Teachers do not have the right to strike, and what is going on is an illegal strike at this time…I must enforce the law. And the law, in my assessment based upon an extensive search of Washington law is clear. Public employees may not strike.”
- Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Krese (2003): “Public employee strikes are illegal under the common law of Washington. The MEA strike violates the prohibition on public employee strikes and is an illegal strike.”
- King County Superior Court Judge Darvas (2009): “The law is clear that teachers do not have a right to strike under Washington law…the strike is unlawful, and it is harming children and their families.”
- Franklin County Superior Court Judge Ekstrom (2015): “Case law is clear, however, that strikes by public employees are illegal. Families rely on school schedules and schools play a critical role in the operation of society.”
Some try to point out that, while state law doesn’t allow strikes, it also doesn’t spell out specific penalties. That doesn’t make strikes legal, nor does that mean there cannot be penalties. Judges can order strikes to end and fine or jail those who ignore orders.
That means nothing to union leaders like Steve McKenna in Yakima. Asked about the possibility of an injunction ordering him and his fellow teachers back to work, McKenna told the Yakima Herald-Republic, “We would ignore an injunction.”
Not only do the WEA and its locals ignore the illegality of strikes, they apparently plan to ignore legitimate court orders too. There’s a word for that: Lawless.
“A teacher is a person who helps others to acquire knowledge, competences or values.” Well with the WEA we’re not getting students educated, or getting them ready for real life but we’re sure getting students learning that laws are meant to be broken if you don’t want to obey. Well laws, regulations and principles are meant to be upheld for a civil society; but not according to the liberals that pick and choose which to follow and ignore those they don’t like. Sounds a bit like anarchy being taught to future generations to be tantrum driven adults driven also by greed.
Striking teachers should be held in contempt for breaking the law and fined daily, $200-300-500 so it hurts since they don’t give a damn about the students education, nor the parents that have to adjust their lives every time the unions want to hold us hostage to their demands for a 3/4 time job while the majority of the working force works full time.
Andrew Gregg says
Conservatives also pick and choose which laws, regulations, and principles to follow.
Liberals preach inclusion and tolerance, unless one wants, for instance, to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Conservatives insist that government not infringe on their rights, unless a woman wants access to reproductive health choices.
Washington State’s citizens’ expectation to live in a civil society is jeopardized by extremists on both sides of the aisle.
Andrew, the left has made little effort to promote a civil society in Washington. Conservatives that have tried to share their opinions in a public forum are often physically attacked, slandered, etc. The left has made zero effort to reign in their henchmen, AntiFA, BAM, etc. Right wing “extremists” in this state is anyone the left doesn’t agree with – 1st Amendment supporters, people that voted for Trump, etc.
What laws are conservatives knowingly violating? The WEA on the other hand, have repeatedly violated the No Strike law. For the most part, they have no fear in doing this, not with Inslee, Ferguson and the State Supreme Court in their hip pocket. In many other states the private negotiations between the governor and the public employee and education unions would violate public disclosure laws. Washington it’s business as usual. It’s corrupt. The entire scheme that WEA has sold smacks of corruption and cronyism. We continuously hear how sad it is for that 1st or 2nd year teacher to survive, what you don’t hear is that the person who teaches the same exact classes may make 2-3 times as much just based on longevity. (It’s why unions reject merit pay, they stack the deck to those faithful union employees.)
Which woman does not have access to reproductive choices? There is no effort to ban birth control pills. $4 prescription at Walmarts. The main point, is why should the taxpayer have to pay for that prescription? They don’t pay for other prescriptions. If you are referring to abortion, doesn’t all living creatures have a right to life? Doesn’t that quick-child have rights? Think about it, we allow abortion of a healthy child even after it is capable of living outside the womb. It is one of the most barbaric laws in the world and it should be entirely unnecessary.
Andrew Gregg says
You missed my point that those at either extreme of the political spectrum are at fault for preventing the enactment of reasonable laws and policies that promote economic success on a wide scale.
Demonizing either Conservatives or Liberals prevents Washingtonians from enjoying a civil society.
By resorting to trite phrases such as “henchmen,” “in their hip pocket,” and “cronyism,” your comments illustrate just how far political discourse in our state has devolved.
I am no fan of the opportunistic leadership in Olympia, but these are the officials with whom we are forced to deal.
That you include the word “liberty” in your moniker, suggests you want citizens to have the opportunity to elected what they may do, as well as not do, in their lives.
Radio Randy says
The mistake in your argument about “access to reproductive health choices” is that taxpayers simply want the choice to not pay for abortions…that’s all. Forcing conservatives to fund such operations is, indeed, infringing on their rights.
Andrew Gregg says
Please note that I did not say “access to FREE OF CHARGE reproductive health choices…”
You clearly assumed I expected taxpayers to foot the bill.
Not the case.
Radio Randy says
Perhaps you can elaborate on your statement “Conservatives insist that government not infringe on their rights, unless a woman wants access to reproductive health choices”.
I’m wondering what “access to reproductive health choices” do conservatives have trouble with.
Andrew Gregg says
You want to get into a beef over topics that have been irreconcilably debated for decades.
Washington State has numerous, pressing issues in need of resolution.
If the talented correspondents on this site could direct their considerable energies toward finding solutions to our State’s problems, as opposed to arguing about their personal political differences, everyone would benefit.
Maybe parents should sue the WEA, Inslee and Ferguson. WEA for calling for the strikes, Ferguson and Inslee for failure to enforce our state laws. And maybe the State Supreme Court can hold the union leadership in contempt for failure to provide a quality education as enacted in state law.
Andrew Gregg says
Only lawyers would benefit.
Remember when the Legislature was held in contempt and fined $100,000.00 per day?
I never did hear if they had to pony up.
Plus, all the money involved is your and mine, and I really doubt that we benefit one iota.
Radio Randy says
We won a significant victory when the Janus decision made it impossible for unions to coerce state employees into paying union fees. With the financial squeeze this is bound to place on state unions…maybe we’ll see them backing off from activities such as illegal strikes.
One can only hope…