We see it in all facets of the work force. From pilots to teachers, professional athletes to doctors: if compensation isn’t fair, an absence of labor is generated and a strike is born. But is the strike just, and besides your employers, who else are you hurting in the process? Going on strike may be justifiable for those who are standing on the picket line, but what about those who count on your services? Is your strike doing just cause for everyone in the long run? Let’s try to solve the complex question: should you or should you not go on strike and hold out for better compensation?
It’s easy to look at a company, public or private, going on strike and see two sides of a story. One side is the disgruntled employee’s that for one reason or another, feel they’re not being offered fair compensation for their work whether that entails benefits, labor, salary etc. The other side of that story is the employer’s side: big wigs who always seem to be holding out on their employees for one reason or another. However, there is a third side to the story: our side. What about the people that are effected that have no affiliation with either side of the organization?
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) was the latest sector to threaten a strike and make headlines. The current budget for CPS is a train wreck and funding has to be cut, all while not limiting educational opportunities for students. Unlike strikes that are held in the private sector, CPS, whose union voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, revenue is comprised of tax dollars. Demanding better compensation at the public level means other public sectors will have to be cut. For instance, higher teacher salaries will mean higher property tax. That is not to say the CPS doesn’t deserve what they are demanding. It’s just at what expense?
The school system is a system that demands attention and if a large majority of teachers aren’t happy, something must be done. Even if that means that more revenue needs to be generated from higher taxes, or other budget cuts need to be made. But is a strike the right form of action? Imagine a teacher’s strike transpiring at the start of the school year. Without knowing any specifics, one could imagine the detriment it would have on our students. CPS is already having issues with school closings and turn-rounds. A teacher strike would only compound the existing problems and hurt the people that need the school system the most: the students.
When we see publicized strikes on television like the National Basketball Association and the National Football League, we complain about millionaires fighting with billionaires, tell them to get over it and start doing their job. Even when factory workers, parcel delivers, or your local Starbucks go on strike, it’s little more than a dispute between employer and employee. When firefighters, teachers and doctors go on strike, it’s a much larger issue. Those strikes affect the masses and something other than picketing needs to be the solution.