This is an all-too common refrain. One current example, according to Bradley Marianno at the74 is the Los Angeles teacher strike. Anti-union advocates had thought they had put the nail in the public sector strike with the Janus v. AFSCME ruling. In the dynamics of the modern teacher, however, this has only made the reality of unions and a common cause all the more pertinent.
He sums up his take:
United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl has, on multiple occasions, drawn connections to the spring walkouts and Janus, and he has made the pitch that the union is the best shot for gaining increased school funding and greater respect for education and for teachers. With momentum already building from job actions in Washington and Chicago, the court case may have served as more of a wake-up call than a death knell.
If the L.A. strike leads to real improvements for its members, it will once again showcase the value of unions and ensure their survival and relevance in a post-Janus world — and the baton will pass to the next group of dissatisfied educators and teachers unions eager to prove their worth.
Bradley Marianno, “Analysis: From the High Court to the Picket Line — How the Janus Case Emboldened Teachers Unions & Made Strikes Key to Their Survival,” The74. January 16, 2019
Amnesia can be wonderful thing, especially in politics. To listen to John Kennedy, one may think that of course, the teacher pension problem is about poor planning. Then again, that may not be a flaw but a feature. He writes for the West Michigan Policy Forum:
It’s simple math. Today’s vastly underfunded teacher pension systems are not good for our teachers or students. Twenty years ago our state teacher retirement plan was fully funded, but due to poor financial planning assumptions and not meeting the annual funding requirement, there is now a shortfall of least $29 billion.
Here’s where amnesia takes over: twenty years ago the Engler administration raided the teacher pension fund as part of Prop A. Under that same plan, the Engler administration also shifted responsibility for increases in pensions to the local districts. The raid destabilized the funds and the cost shift meant that districts came into fiscal risk while simultaneously losing money to effectively teach their children.
And to spell this out completely: John Engler enjoyed some of his most significant support from the Republican party of W Michigan. This crisis is almost entirely one of their own making.