In solving labor disputes for public school teachers, striking is not the answer.
In Chicago, about 26,000 teachers and support staff have walked off the job. Now more than 350,000 students need a new place to spend their days until their parents make new arrangements.
It was the latest flashpoint in the public debate over public employee unions that have roiled politics in Ohio, Wisconsin and beyond.
In a year when labor unions have been losing ground nationwide, the implications were sure to extend far beyond Chicago, particularly for districts engaged in similar debates.
The union had vowed to strike Monday if there was no agreement on a new contract, even though the district offered a 16 percent raise over four years and the two sides had essentially agreed on a longer school day. With an average annual salary of $76,000, Chicago teachers are among the highest-paid in the nation, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality. But some teachers said raises were less important to them than other issues, such as classroom sizes.
The problem with a labor strike is that only the students and parents are truly hurt. Schools work differently than the private sector where strikers lose income for the days they refuse to work.
In schools, teachers and other employees will receive their full pay for the year if they are able to teach the allocated number of days in a school year.
There needs to be another alternative to solving labor impasses than creating unnecessary burdens on students and parents.