It's teacher hunting season!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

ILO Court: NY Taylor Law Violates Worker Rights - Why Won't City Unions Use Ruling?

As noted on August 15, 2012 in Labor Press, an outfit sponsored by several New York unions, the International Labor Organization ruled in November 2011 that New York's Taylor Law, with its punishing fines, violated internationally recognized rights of the 2005 striking Transit Workers Union.
In Marc Bussanich's "ILO Decision May Offer Opportunity for City Labor"> he reported:
A November 2011 International Labor Organization decision ruled, after the Transport Workers Union Local 100 filed a complaint with the ILO in November 2009 after the union struck in December 2005 and was heavily fined, that New York’s Taylor Law banning and penalizing public worker strikes violates fundamental workers’ rights protected by international law. With 200,000 city public workers without contracts, in some cases over five years, the ILO decision would seem to have presented the city’s public sector unions the economic leverage they have desperately needed to win new contracts.

But why will New York City's municipal unions not consider the value of the strike?
A United Federation of Teachers vice-president is on record for chiding some UFT dissidents for their stating the great value of striking.

But why will not the UFT consider that American labor's great gains were achieved because trade unions exercised the option of striking?
What gave us the weekend? The eight hour day? The lunch break? For many of the advances, state and federal law did, but honest historians will recognize that the advances were gained because in the climate of the time strikes were frequent and they demanded that companies and governments bargain respectfully. (Granted, this has often been without respect, as the exceptional US record of employer and governmental violence against strikers will attest.)

If strikes themselves did not accomplish these accomplishments, the threat of them and the building of worker consciousness spurred governments to listen to the lobbying of union representatives in the halls of government.

The profoundly weakened condition of the New York City teacher, with the comprehensive, systematic harassment, weak give-back contracts, and absence of a contract since 2009 are all living testimony to the effect of foreswearing the use of a strike, or any mass action in relation to work-place conditions.

Alas, the problems in New York are not exceptional. One Chicago teacher, Kenzo Shibata, wrote recently in the Huffington Post, "There may be only one way for educators to regain respect in the workplace -- a strike."

(The condition of teachers being at the end of their rope is why the Chicago Teachers Union is considering a strike. A Chicago Teachers Union member will speak next week at a MORE event in NY on the issues the CTU teachers are facing.)

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