Why is it these two words always seem to go together? When I was growing up, a teacher’s strike was a very rare occasion – even something that was more of a “once-in-a-lifetime” event. Yet now we see teachers striking all over the country, at all different times of the year, and happening every single year somewhere!

Oh, I don’t blame teachers for striking. Most of them don’t really want to strike but are forced to do so by the teachers unions. The teachers I know care more about their students and education (though they’d admit a little extra money in their paychecks wouldn’t hurt either, considering they pay for school supplies out of their own pockets).

So who do I blame? The unions, of course!

Unions used to have a purpose (not only Teachers’ Unions, but all unions). Before their inception, employers abused their employees, making them work ungodly hours and in unhealthy atmospheres. They employed children and paid them nearly nothing for sacrificing their lives to make things to sell. Yes, the dawn of unions was a necessary thing, as it brought to the forefront of society and government the safety and welfare of the workforce. Through the actions of the unions, they were able to get laws enacted to protect children from working when too young, and working too many hours or working in deplorable circumstances when a little older. It was through the unions’ works that a minimum wage was enacted (which, today, is double what it was when I was starting to work).

But now unions seem to have outlived their use. Whenever I hear about some union, it’s always connected with something that’s going to inconvenience people because of something only the unions believe is important (and that something – more times than not – is for nothing more than a show of their power).

One “for instance” that comes to mind is what happened with Hostess – you know, the Twinkies. The company filed for bankruptcy – not to liquidate, but to reorganize so they could become solvent again and remain in business. But when the company tried to decrease the hourly rate of the workers by $1.00 (yes, that is a lot of money), the workers’ union called a strike. What they didn’t count on was Hostess deciding to liquidate. At this point, I haven’t heard anything more as I write this, but the fact remains that the unions will be costing all those people their jobs, their money, and their medical insurance, because they called a strike rather than work out a deal on behalf of the workers. Some union!

But before I digress too much on this subject, let me swing it back to the original topic of this blog post: Teachers and Strikes.

Once the media announced that (yet) another school’s teachers are on strike, they immediately go into stating how long they have been working without a contract – like that’s supposed to make it sound like the union is doing a good thing. Really?

News Announcer: “The teachers have been working since September of last year without a contract.”

So if the unions were such a good thing, where were they the year before, and why weren’t they trying to hammer out the details of a contract during those summer months when everyone is off? Why not start negotiations an entire year before the contract expires? Let me give you a hint, Unions – the expiration date is on the contract! Try to beat the deadline!

Instead, they wait until the last minute, in the hopes that the School Districts will crumble under the weight of guilt that a teacher’s strike causes, because the children are not getting the education they need. The unions strike, the teachers stop working and picket, the students stay home and lose precious time of their education, and the parents, who are paying salaries through their taxes, end up paying even more money on babysitters or chaperones for their children who are now home when they should be in school. Eventually, when the unions secure what they want, the teachers go back to work, and the children go back into classes and now suffer further by having to catch up on the days they were forced to miss, or suffer more because now their college entrance is delayed because of the long strike.

I just don’t see how any of it makes sense. What is the use of Teachers’ Unions today? How often do you hear of nurses going on strike? Or doctors? Or is it fact that education simply is not the focus of the unions? Odd, isn’t it?