Teacher strikes are on my mind this morning.
It was six years ago that the Chicago Teachers Union was in the middle of it’s historic strike against Rahm Emanuel and his hand-picked board of education.
I was not working for CPS at the time. I had retired that year from my teaching job in a suburban Chicago school district. But not before I presented a resolution to the national convention – the Representative Assembly – of the NEA calling for national support of the CTU in their battle with the mayor’s unelected school board.
As CTU organizer Marty Ritter pointed out on our radio show/podcast yesterday, the current Chicago CTU contract is up this year and bargaining begins soon.
In Los Angeles, the United Teachers of Los Angeles, (UTLA) is in the middle of bargaining.
L.A. teachers have overwhelmingly voted strike authorization.
Exposing his ignorance of the bargaining process, former advisor to former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Peter Cunningham, recently tweeted that the L.A. teacher vote was “premature.”
What is a premature strike authorization vote?
After all, it’s not a vote to strike.
And, like Illinois, California labor relations are governed by statutes, which includes timelines and requirements before a strike can take place.
A strike authorization vote being one of the requirements. A strike authorization vote has to take place way before a strike can happen.
In Illinois, the legislature created a special law that required Chicago teachers – and only Chicago teachers – to give strike authorization by approval of 75% of all members.
If only we needed that margin to elect the legislators.
I’ve been involved in strike authorization votes many times. Once we ended up having a strike. More often it didn’t. The vote was a bargaining chip and both sides have them. The vote is a message to the board that the membership stands behind its negotiators.
How can that be premature?
But that is just one of the things about the union process that Peter Cunningham doesn’t get.
Updated: The same Peter Cunningham who believes a strike authorization vote is unfair bargaining, has signed on as Bill Daley’s communications guy for Daley’s mayoral campaign in Chicago.