Members of the Chicago Teachers Union make an average of $76,000 and have just rejected an offer of a 15 percent pay increase (over four years) and gone on strike. This in an economic slump. The latest unemployment rate for Cook County (Chicago) is 9.6 percent.
The strike does help underscore the difference between the government economy and the private sector economy that finances it. Currently, government unemployment is only 5.1 percent, the lowest among economic groups.
If you watched the Democratic Convention last week you noticed the frequency of government union T-Shirts among the delegates. Government employees unions are now the core financial and campaign constituency of the Democratic Party. They also are ruthless opponents of reform, and that is especially true in education. Gloria Romero, a former Democratic State Senator in California, now heads a chapter of Democrats for Education Reform. She became completely frustrated as a legislator when every idea she or anyone else proposed was opposed--successfully--by the California Teachers Association. Their power is unparalleled. California government? Declares Romero (interviewed by Allysia Finley), "There's no other way to say it politely. It's owned."
So, will the Chicago strike go to "mediation" and wind up with a happy "compromise" that gives the teachers even more? Will President Obama be seen riding to the rescue to make this happen, as Rush Limbaugh suspects?
Or will this example of government union power's excess be another wake-up moment for the general electorate? The issue (to say it yet again) is: "Government of the government, by the government, for the government."