By Kyle Olson
NEW YORK – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s decisive victory in Tuesday’s union-orchestrated recall election is proof positive that elected leaders can stand up to special interest groups and survive.
The Wisconsin victory should be an example to mayors and governors across the country as they tackle budget deficits and attempt to “work things out” with government sector unions. The government class in Wisconsin and elsewhere has proven to be inflexible and indifferent to private sector trends. The expectation is for the private sector producer class to continue footing the bill for “public servants’” unsustainable pensions, health care plans and salary schedules.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel would be wise to take a page out of Walker’s playbook as he heads into a long, hot summer of contentious contract negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union. Despite a billion-dollar deficit, 56 percent graduation rate and the shortest school day and school year of any urban district, the union is expected to authorize a strike today because the city refuses to consider its demands for a 30 percent raise for teachers.
Chicago’s financial situation and academic results are far more dire than Wisconsin’s. The city’s school choice options are far fewer than Wisconsin’s. Many more students are trapped in failing schools, which is all the more reason Emanuel must play hardball with the union.
Stare into Medusa’s eyes, Mr. Mayor. You’ll win.
The CTU won’t strike anytime soon. It’s not to their advantage. Instead, they’ll wait for the right moment, just as parents are readying their students for a new school year in September. Then, at the moment of greatest impact, the union will give the middle finger to the community and walk out on students. It’s the union way.
At that moment, Emanuel should move swiftly to grind the CTU into the dirt, using public anger over the strike to his advantage. If the city’s public school teachers would prefer a picket line to a classroom, they don’t deserve the privilege of teaching students. Emanuel should provide the easiest pathways for students to obtain a high-quality education through public charter schools (most of which are not under the thumb of the CTU) or plead with the state legislature to provide vouchers or tuition tax credits for students to seek private education.
In classic fashion, the union’s gasbaggery and overreaction will prove to be its demise, like we just witnessed in Wisconsin.