Saturday, March 20, 2021

1889 Institute: COVID shows why gov't collective bargaining should be illegal


COVID-19 Illuminates Why Collective Bargaining with Government Employees Should Be Illegal
By Byron Schlomach

By one recent ranking of the fifty states and the District of Columbia, Oklahoma’s public schools are 48th in quality. Texas is big, diverse, and has immigration issues; nevertheless, it ranks 30th, ahead of Missouri (32nd), and Arkansas (39th), but behind Oklahoma’s other neighbors Kansas (27th) and Colorado (17th).

Demographics, culture, and other issues outside schools’ direct control play some part in the rankings. Still, our schools were not doing what they needed to do even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Things have only gotten worse. Since Oklahoma’s schools closed in March 2020, Oklahoma’s public schools have become intellectual wastelands. Unready to conduct classes online last spring, most of Oklahoma’s schools – at least the large districts – simply punted the rest of the school year. Things are only marginally better this year.

Yet, schools have not been a source of COVID-19 spread. Sweden and other European countries have demonstrated this fact, and a study from the United States shows COVID-19 spreading at a minuscule rate in schools, with just 0.04% of students being infected at school. There was apparently no transmission from students to adults in the schools.

Despite objective evidence, school superintendents in several Oklahoma school districts have vowed to defy official guidance and force anyone who might have had contact with COVID-19 to stay away from school for ten days. Why the paranoia? Why act contrary to facts? If the primary concern, over all other considerations, is student safety, why run buses? Why have sports? Why have school at all?

There are a significant number of school teachers and other personnel who are horrified of contracting COVID, despite its fairly low morbidity rate. They’re union members. Unions have historically been about the business of getting the highest possible compensation for the least possible amount of work. While many teachers have found themselves doing even more work attempting to continue educating Oklahoma’s kids, union leaders apparently consider it a victory that their members are paid while rarely physically showing up at their place of employment.

Superintendents get their jobs by vote of school board members who get their jobs standing for election in February, or April, when hardly anyone is paying attention except school employees. Therefore, unions dominate these elections and school board members owe their positions to union members. School board members represent union-affiliated school employees more than they do parents, and way more than students.

Some states have made collective bargaining with government employees illegal. With school boards, union members effectively hire their own bosses, who can tax everyone. Consequently, collective bargaining often pits government against overall public interest.
 
When will the Oklahoma Legislature act in Oklahoma’s public interest and outlaw collective bargaining with public employee unions?

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