I certainly am supportive of any teacher’s right to bargain through a union for any wage, benefit, or work conditions, etc and the teachers currently on strike in Ferndale are no exception. However I am not supportive of the strike that some teachers in the Ferndale Education Association Union(FEA) have called.
It seems a fact that the contract between the Ferndale School District (FSD) and FEA expired on 8/31. And it seems a fact that both parties are currently negotiating to reach an agreement and ultimately a valid contract. I won’t comment on the minutia of the agreement or lack of agreement because frankly, I feel that those details are best worked out between the teachers and school district who are the ones who will be living and working with the agreement. But as a parent in the Ferndale School District and as a taxpayer who is ultimately paying my share of whatever deal is reached, I wanted to take a minute to comment on the strike itself.
What about the legality of the strike? I’m a little hesitant to bring up the legality of publicly employed teachers striking, but given that it is illegal and they are striking, how is it that our local media has been so lax in seriously calling out both the teachers and their union on voting to do something illegal? Would firefighters or police get a free ride from the press if they were to abandon their duty to the public? What next? Perhaps FEA members will vote to disregard speed limits in order to arrive at their job 6 minutes earlier? I write that with tongue in cheek, but really illegal is illegal, illegal is wrong and I can’t get behind the 91% of the teachers who decided to put their self interest above the law. Where are the articles about the 9% who said NO, I won’t go there, it’s wrong? Those are the teachers I want for my kids.
And what of the whole process that led to the strike? I don’t see that either side has been diligent in renewing the contract. I read that the negotiations have been going on since April for a new contract that was to begin on Sept. 1st. Have they really? What’s been done? Since the strike was announced the web has been filled with information about daily meetings and negotiations that last until the wee hour of the morning, but where is the record of negotiations from April, May, June, July and August? How many daily meetings happened since classes ended in June? How many meetings in August lasted until 1:30 am in a last ditch effort to settle issues before classes were interrupted? If talks in April, May, June and July didn’t reach agreement, why not call in a mediator then? Why did the FEA union wait until September? I think the answer is obvious. Our kids couldn’t be used as bargaining chips until classes were supposed to be in session. Who would care about a strike in July? And why, in light of this tactic by the FEA, hasn’t the school district filed a complaint with the Public Employee Relations Commission? The FEA and the FSD are both at fault for not pressing harder for resolution.
I don’t support the teacher’s union strike because I don’t believe they are upholding their legal duty as a public employee and I don’t believe they have negotiated with enough effort, in good faith, nor in the best interest of our kids.