September 21, 2011
Teachers on Strike

Can someone please explain to me why the Tacoma School District doesn't just fire people who don't show up to work?

I am not saying teachers don't have an unalienable right to strike. Of course they do. We all do. But none of us have any right to keep our jobs if we don't show up for work. They won't work; the district needs them to work; so, why not just fire them and hire new teachers?

What am I missing?

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

Posted by pudge at September 21, 2011 05:27 AM | Email This
Comments
1. Pudge,
From what I have heard, they do not have a right to strike. At least not in as much as they don't have to show up in class. Is there more to the strike rights than is being reported?

Posted by: shaydo on September 21, 2011 06:10 AM
2. shaydo: here's Rob McKenna's opinion as AG. Summed up: there is no "legally protected right to strike," there are no penalties in the law for striking, courts may force public employees back to work, and legislatures may enact penalties in the future.

I see no justification for a court to force employees back to work or punish them for not working. The law only says, no right to strike is granted by the law. But what is a "right to strike"? To many people, it means "the right to strike and to keep your job." My usage is, simply, "the right to strike," period.

Clearly, there is no former right. But also clearly, under our Constitution and the freedoms enumerated by our Declaration of Independence, the latter right must necessarily exist.

You will not find anything in McKenna's opinion that backs up the claim that employees have no right to protest their employer instead of showing up for work, in order to try to convince the employer to change his practices. And why would there be? If I have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, how can the government -- unless I am in the military, for example, where I've given an oath -- tell me that I must show up to work, or face penalties from the judicial system?

My life is my own, and I can do what I wish with my liberty, toward whatever pursuits I desire.

The government's only justified recourse is to take action against me in regard to my employment: withhold pay, or demote/suspend/fire me. To fine me or jail me as courts have done before ... I see no legal or constitutional justification for it. Do you?

I also don't see how this is much different from the health insurance mandate, frankly. Government has just as much right to force me to work as it does to force me to buy insurance (that is, none at all).

I realize I am going against standard conservative/Republican opinion on the subject, but I can't justify that standard opinion, so I don't hold it.

This seems very simple to me: you have no right to not be fired, but the state has no right to take action against you to force you back to work.

Posted by: pudge on September 21, 2011 06:48 AM
3. Pudge,
Boiled down, you're right, we all should be able to engage in a "wildcat" strike. This can be individually or collectively done but you run the risk of being replaced if you're not protected by collective bargaining laws. The teachers and other state employees apparently are not. I'm fairly sure the districts have never come up with contingency plans to hire all new staff. I wonder how it would work anyway if new teachers are required to join the union upon being hired? It's ridiculous anyway that district labor negotiators have agreed to allowed contracts to expire at the beginning of a school year. Maybe they need to be replaced. BTW, I hope "standard conservative/Republican opinion" does not see government with that much power over individual work decisions either.

Posted by: shaydo on September 21, 2011 07:24 AM
4. I don't think you are going against conservative/Republican opinion that much really, and if you are, who cares, truth is what matters, not Party sensibilities. If the state said, get back to work or we will find someone else, some might read that to mean, they don't have a right to strike when it really means, you have the right, but you'll suffer your job for it.

What is especially telling here is the Teachers are setting a law breaking example (whether you agree with the Judge or not) to their students. What justification do they have for insisting their students follow directions if they have demonstrated they do not themselves follow directions?

add it to the reasons why my family does not participate in government education.

Posted by: TedR on September 21, 2011 07:28 AM
5. On second thought, in this case I think the State does have a case for taking action against striking teachers. If there is a contractual obligation by the teachers to work, and this appears to be the case according to the Judge, then, in my opinion, the State has every right to take action, the Teachers are in breech of contract.

Posted by: TedR on September 21, 2011 07:31 AM
6. shaydo: This can be individually or collectively done but you run the risk of being replaced if you're not protected by collective bargaining laws. The teachers and other state employees apparently are not.

They absolutely are not.

I'm fairly sure the districts have never come up with contingency plans to hire all new staff.

Then the people should fire their school district representatives and get people in there who can do the job.

I wonder how it would work anyway if new teachers are required to join the union upon being hired?

Well, that's requirement is obviously anti-liberty too, of course. Not that anyone cares.


BTW, I hope "standard conservative/Republican opinion" does not see government with that much power over individual work decisions either.

I see lots of conservatives and Republicans in favor of courts busting up strikes, even though I see no authority for the courts to do it.


TedR: What is especially telling here is the Teachers are setting a law breaking example (whether you agree with the Judge or not) to their students.

Even worse, they are telling lies to their students, saying they have a right to strike without losing their jobs, saying they are being treated unfairly, saying they "deserve" more money or benefits, etc.

Now, these might be valid opinions, but they teach these things as facts, which makes them lies.


If there is a contractual obligation by the teachers to work, and this appears to be the case according to the Judge ...

Even if that were the case -- and I've seen nothing in the contract that says it, have you? -- since when do courts have the right to enforce a contract by threats of fines or jail? If I sue you for violating our contract, the court can force you to compensate me for that violation, but shouldn't that be ALL the court can do?

Posted by: pudge on September 21, 2011 08:08 AM
7. Pudge,
Their jobs will not be lost since the firing authority - the school board - is elected and be assured that they have been made fully aware that when they come up for election next time, the teacher's union will ensure that they lose.
This is not a traditional employer/employee relationship since the employee has access to virtually unlimited funds to help replace the employer with a more sympathetic one.
As for returning to work on the judge's order - I believe the judge is also elected - same theory applies.
Basic concept of life - if a law is ignored enough - it ceases to be a useful law.

Posted by: Borderland on September 21, 2011 08:37 AM
8. The issue is that the state legislature has never defined (to my knowledge) a remedy for illegal public worker strikes. And as long as Democrats control things here, they never will. So, other than fines, I don't see how the court has any authority to force them back to work either.

My main issue is not as much with teacher strikes, but public safety worker strikes (firefighters, police, first responders, etc). There is larger compelling public interest in having these people on the job, and there should definitely be a remedy defined if they walk off. Kids can make up school days, there's little that can be done about the negative consequences of public safety workers not working.

Posted by: Palouse on September 21, 2011 08:39 AM
9. The district should sign a contract giving the teachers a $20/hour pay raise and agree to cut class sizes to 5 students. Then, when the teachers return to work, do anything they please. When the union sues for breach of contract, and the judge agrees, just ignore the judge's order just like the teachers have done.

Posted by: Huey on September 21, 2011 08:56 AM
10. The students have rules to follow, some are "zero-tolerance" rules. If they willfully violate those rules , regardless of any altruism, there are consequences - sometimes harsh.

The teachers conducting an illegal strike have no such worry. They can strike, they can ignore a judge's order and they still get their contract, their days in the classroom, their time off, and their pay. They do not suffer any consequence of willfully violating the law.

This is what makes these strikes really wrong and is what sets the worst example to the kids.

Posted by: SouthernRoots on September 21, 2011 08:56 AM
11. The sad part of all this is that, in the end, the teachers will lose, and lose badly. And, it will be worse the longer this goes on.

The economics of public education in it's present form are just not sustainable in the long run when the product is declining in worth at a huge, and ever growing, cost.

This use of the word sustainable is textbook correct. Liberals have bastardized the word almost into meaninglessness.

Posted by: Hank on September 21, 2011 09:56 AM
12. Palouse: The issue is that the state legislature has never defined (to my knowledge) a remedy for illegal public worker strikes.

Again, I see nothing illegal about the strikes. They seem perfectly legal to me.

And the remedy is suspending/firing/demoting/etc. the employees.


My main issue is not as much with teacher strikes, but public safety worker strikes (firefighters, police, first responders, etc). There is larger compelling public interest in having these people on the job, and there should definitely be a remedy defined if they walk off.

Suspending/firing/demoting/etc. Sure.

Posted by: pudge on September 21, 2011 10:31 AM
13. pudge:

I have not seen the contract, but the Judge presiding over the case has and has ruled they must go back to work. My thinking is the contract must be such that they are obligated to work and striking is not an option under the current contract. I have no issue with this in this case since a contract is involved and this isn't simply a right to work situation.

Posted by: TedR on September 21, 2011 11:52 AM
14. They know their jobs are good. Otherwise they would just quit. And they certainly have the right to quit, if things are so horrible (which they're clearly not); but notice that they don't quit. This is temper tantrum and the district should fire them and replace them with people who want to work. There is no right to strike. There are many new college graduates with education degrees and teaching certificates who would love to have those jobs.

Posted by: Monterey on September 21, 2011 11:59 AM
15. It seems to me that if the contract has expired, then the school district is no longer obligated to recognize the union or the teachers.

1 - Fire everyone who has not shown up for work.
2 - Declare the district to be non-union.
3 - Hire the out-of-work teachers at new (modified) rates.
4 - "Fired" teachers can apply, but they start at the bottom - just like all new hires.

Posted by: Douglas Aldrich on September 21, 2011 12:30 PM
16. TedR: I have not seen the contract, but the Judge presiding over the case has and has ruled they must go back to work.

As I understand it, there IS NO contract.

Yes, the judge ruled they have to go back to work, but I see no legal or contractural grounds for him doing so. They are free people. They don't have to work if they don't want to work. Forced labor is not a privilege of the state ... even if there is a contract. They could be sued or fired for breach of contract, but not forced to work. Not in a free country.


Douglas: right on.

Posted by: pudge on September 21, 2011 01:05 PM
17. Where is the like button? I could not agree with you more!!!

Posted by: Charlene Jenkins on September 21, 2011 01:37 PM
18. Stupid questions:

1. Are they still under contract?

2. Is there a clause in the contract that prevents the school board from firing teachers for striking?

3. Is there a no-strike clause in the contract?

If yes to all three, how is the strike not valid, if the school district/employer gave them that right?

And no, McKenna's opinion is not legally binding on anything, in case anyone considers that a factor. It's an opinion. Judges though, subject to the limits of their authority over enforcing law on the books, are binding.

Posted by: Joe Szilagyi on September 21, 2011 02:22 PM
19. Joe: 1. Are they still under contract?

From what I've read, the contract expired. Again, though, that doesn't matter to me in my main point: I don't see how a court can compel someone to work. To me this isn't about contracts.


Is there a clause in the contract that prevents the school board from firing teachers for striking?

Very doubtful, since that would imply a "right to strike." What district would even consider this?


Is there a no-strike clause in the contract?

Extremely doubtful. What union would even consider this?


If yes to all three ...

... if pigs fly ...

I don't think you mean that though. I think you mean "if Yes to 1 and 2 and No to 3."


And no, McKenna's opinion is not legally binding on anything

Sure. I said explicitly that I think it's wrong: I see no justification for the court taking action against employees who refuse to work. The district can fire them or take other action (assuming they are not contracturally disallowed, which seems the case, since there appears to be no contract), but the court has no business forcing them to work.


Judges though, subject to the limits of their authority over enforcing law on the books, are binding.

Yes, and I also think the judges are wrong. :-)

Posted by: pudge on September 21, 2011 02:57 PM
20. I don't see how a court can compel someone to work.

They can order it.

http://articles.latimes.com/2001/dec/05/news/mn-11843

The LA Times.

THE NATION Law: Judge uses the alphabet in sentencing the educators for ignoring a back-to-work order. He is up to the Cs.

December 05, 2001|JANET WILSON and JOHN J. GOLDMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITERSFREEHOLD, N.J. -- For the first time in 23 years, a judge took the extraordinary step of jailing teachers in New Jersey for criminal contempt when they ignored a court order to end a strike.

Amid tears and vows not to return to work until they received a new contract, teachers in Monmouth County's biggest school district Tuesday told Superior Court Judge Clarkson S. Fisher Jr. they would rather be behind bars than bow to school administrators they distrust in the central New Jersey suburb of Middletown Township.

The judge began sentencing teachers Monday in alphabetical order. Fisher reached the Cs on Tuesday and there are now 47 teachers in the Monmouth County Jail, where officials said they were being housed two to a cell.

"Everyone I know who has been in the courtroom has come out in tears," said Karen Joseph, a spokeswoman for the union. "The people who stand in front of the hall of records are in tears when they cheer the people who have to go in.

"There is this bucolic Christmas tree and Christmas lights and evergreens. . . . It's not a happy holiday season here. Every couple of hours, we have to watch people being taken to jail in handcuffs."

Posted by: Hinton on September 21, 2011 03:17 PM
21. Hinton: They can order it.

Of course if they have the right to order someone back to work, they have the right to jail them if they don't. But where is the right to order someone to work?

Posted by: pudge on September 21, 2011 03:50 PM
22. While I have no problem with employees voluntarily joining unions against their PRIVATE SECTOR employees, I do believe that PUBLIC SECTOR employees should not be allowed to join unions. Even FDR thought that unions were only appropriate for the private sector, not the public sector.

Posted by: Politically Incorrect on September 21, 2011 03:57 PM
23. Suspending/firing/demoting/etc. Sure.

I'm not opposed to this, but I don't see how it could be done. The teachers won't accept demotions or suspensions, they just will stay on strike. If you fire them all, teachers in this state have to be licensed here (correct me if I'm wrong about this). It would take a long time and a lot of money to hire replacements and get them licensed, that it would essentially wipe out an entire school year. If that happened, good luck to whoever makes that decision in their next career. I suppose the legislature or governor could suspend the license requirement, but given that unions are their primary benefactor, that will never happen either.

Posted by: Palouse on September 21, 2011 04:04 PM
24. I don't know where "The Right" to order them back to work actually is. I just know that they can, because they have.

And using that in Tacoma right now may send a message they really can't ignore.

Posted by: Hinton on September 21, 2011 04:12 PM
25. P.I.: I do believe that PUBLIC SECTOR employees should not be allowed to join unions

That would violate the core of the First Amendment, destroying one of the most essential liberties people have: to form groups with other people to express themselves toward whatever end they choose. "Congress shall make no law respecting ... the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."


Even FDR thought that unions were only appropriate for the private sector, not the public sector.

I don't believe he did. I think he said collective bargaining was a bad idea for the public sector, not unions. But even if he did, that doesn't imply they could or should be banned. Maybe that's what you mean, too: that public sector employees should not have the right to collectively bargain. I absolutely agree with that. If the government wishes to collectively bargain it may, but there is no right to do it.

But a union is just a group of people in a job who form an organization to address, in some fashion, their common interests. You can't ban that. You can only -- and should -- limit the extent to which government recognizes them. In particular, the NLRB should be disbanded and any law on the books that gives special rights to "organized labor" should be stricken from the books. Any union should only have special consideration in dealing with an employer if the employer chooses to grant such consideration, by contract or by formality. Government has no right whatsoever to force companies to deal with unions, and governments themselves should not deal with unions for their own workers.


Palouse: The teachers won't accept demotions or suspensions, they just will stay on strike.

Shrug. Fire them.


If you fire them all, teachers in this state have to be licensed here

It's an opportunity for new prospective teachers.


It would take a long time and a lot of money to hire replacements and get them licensed, that it would essentially wipe out an entire school year

A small price to pay. I mean that sincerely.


Hinton: I don't know where "The Right" to order them back to work actually is. I just know that they can, because they have.

Oh, come on. The government does a lot of things it's has no legal authority to do (for example, forcing people to buy health care, banning firearms, banning free speech, etc.).

Posted by: pudge on September 21, 2011 04:33 PM
26. We have evolved a dual-class society--gov't employees, and everyone else. Remember the case of the WSP troopers caught submitting phony diplomas to qualify for raises? Put on paid leave for a year, then back to work. Or the WSDOT engineer who was arrested for rape of a 16-yr-old girl, plead to 3rd degree felony assault, but was not fired?

If we're not going to hold accountable a public employee for child rape, certainly we are not about to hold Tacoma teachers accountable for an illegal strike.

Posted by: travis t on September 21, 2011 04:36 PM
27. A couple of important points to consider:

1) The teachers will come back to work on October 1st, if they don't then their health care benefits will not be paid. Once they get their first paycheck they may walk out again, however.

2) Teachers are public employees and legally cannot strike. The district did the proper thing and immediately sought and received a court order to put them back to work.

3) The district then did the wrong thing by not terminating the teachers when they violated the court order. Districts cannot have teachers who violate court orders teaching their kids. They should have started terminating them in alphabetical order as many as a single office worker could do in a day.

4) Parents should bring legal action against the teachers union for monetary damages....they should go after them for everything they have and more. Once parents can successfully sue a teachers' union, strikes will not occur.

5) Teachers are under contract.....each of them has a signed contract for this current school year. The negotiated agreement between the union and the district is over but by law it continues under current language. Each teacher has breeched their current individual contract and can legally be terminated.

Posted by: doug on September 21, 2011 08:32 PM
28. Undoubtedly whatever contracts the teachers had last year have some transition provisions until a new contract is signed which places the teachers in jeopardy by their refusal to obey the Court Order. Without such provisions the district could simply fire them all, hire substitute teachers and then wait until the teachers reapplied for their old jobs after experiencing the real world for a couple of months. It wouldn't take long for them to beg for their jobs. This would also allow the district to get rid of some teachers who are dead wood, by choosing not to hire them. This is coming
from a liberal by the way.

Posted by: Sally Penna on September 21, 2011 08:53 PM
29. Undoubtedly whatever contracts the teachers had last year have some transition provisions until a new contract is signed which places the teachers in jeopardy by their refusal to obey the Court Order. Without such provisions the district could simply fire them all, hire substitute teachers and then wait until the teachers reapplied for their old jobs after experiencing the real world for a couple of months. It wouldn't take long for them to beg for their jobs. This would also allow the district to get rid of some teachers who are dead wood, by choosing not to hire them. This is coming
from a liberal by the way.

Posted by: Sally Penna on September 21, 2011 08:54 PM
30. Every teacher signed a contract in June or July for this year, individually they all have a contract that they are breaking.

The issue is the negotiated agreement between the union and district that sets work environment. That agreement has ended and negotiations are ongoing to replace it.

Under current law, employees and the district must continue operations under the elapsed negotiated agreement until changes are made and agreed to. However, it is important to know that each teacher has a contract signed and in place for this school year.

The district can fire them, but it is too difficult to do in a large district as replacements aren't easily found. If they really wanted to put the hurt on them, they would start opening up small schools within the district with substitute teachers as they can find them (or extra administrators).

Once they open up school, then they don't have to make up the days, and those teachers will actually lose money, rather than live on their belief that if they delay school a month, then they just have to extend school a month.

Posted by: doug on September 21, 2011 09:31 PM
31. All of which begs the issue: You stated you didn't see how a court could compel anyone to work.

I provided legal precedent where they had. The rightness or wrongness of such an order is irrelevant in response to your observation.

That a court has done this shows that it can be done. There's nothing to indicate (That I could find) that the court's decision to arrest these teachers was overturned or successfully appealed.

That I, a layman, don't know where the authority to do this rests does not mean that no such authority exists, because clearly, it does.

And yes, locking up the teachers compelled them both to return to work and do the work they were hired to do.

Correspondingly, it's likely they could be just as arrested in Tacoma on contempt charges, just as locked up... and just as compelled to go back to work.

And, BTW, the thought occurred to me that violation of a court order can and frequently does result in arrest.

So, if you're looking for the authority, perhaps you could look up "judicial discretion."

Posted by: Hinton on September 21, 2011 09:45 PM
32. doug: Teachers are public employees and legally cannot strike. The district did the proper thing and immediately sought and received a court order to put them back to work.

Please show me a law that says that if a public employee refuses to show up for work, the government can FORCE them to work.

I'm with you that the district can fire them, and should. I'd probably start slow: fire a few people the first day, a few more the next, etc. But I see no justification that the government can FORCE them to work through a court order.

As to suing ... again, I don't see it. If I am a waiter, and decide to not show up for work, should the patrons of the restaurant get to sue me? I know it's not exactly the same, but the point is, I am simply an employee, and I can choose to not work whenever I want to, and I am not responsible for damages caused by me not showing up for work, and I cannot be forced to work. All you can do is take action against me at the job. I see no justification for anything else, unless the contract specifically allows for it (which seems extremely unlikely).

Posted by: pudge on September 21, 2011 09:50 PM
33. Let's see what our lame duck Governor does. She talks tough about meeting the teachers union rep (?) if the strike is not over by Friday.

What would Chris Christie do here ? (probably as good of measuring stick against teachers unions as any governor).

Posted by: KDS on September 21, 2011 10:11 PM
34. The latter first, if a judge orders you as a waiter back to work and there was expenses occurred because you did not follow the judges order, you could be financially liable.

Same thing with a teacher's union, only in this case the teachers union may also be violating rico laws.

I'm not sure which RCW it is, but the law actually specifically denies as a 'right' for a public employee to strike. They do not have that right, the RCW (would be around 41.50ish I would gather) specifically denies them that right. As a result the judge can order them back to work.

In fact, if a teacher then gets sick and can't possibly show up to work, they would be at the mercy of the district and judge, as they have to follow the court order.

I guess you could be arguing from an anarchist point of view, just saying that they can't force them to work, that the rule of law is nothing without force and a gun. However, I am only arguing from a legal standpoint...theoretically the judge can and did order them back to work, yes the judge doesn't have an army, but they must...now they can be at risk in civil court as well.

Any parent that already has a vaction planned and paid for, should sue and would win.

Posted by: doug on September 21, 2011 10:19 PM
35. What you are missing is that there is no such thing as a right to an education provided by the state even if the state constitution says that it is. Rights are not entitlements to goods or services. Rights only pertain to your freedom of action in a social context i.e. life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The only purpose of government, federal, state or city is to protect these rights.

Education is not a proper function of government and in fact it is a violation of our rights as its funding is expropriated from us. Public education should be promptly abolished and the schools sold. The plague of city wide teacher strikes will also come to an abrupt end.

Remember that public education is not an inevitable fact of nature like the sun rising every day. It is a man made institution that can be modified or eradicated.

Posted by: Bill K. on September 21, 2011 10:52 PM
36. There is no "right" in the constitution to strike. There are laws that sometimes protect employees from being fired by an employer if the employees are striking. Individuals can not be forced to work, but employees can. If you don't want to work, and you don't want to go to jail, then you can quit.

Public and private employees are different. As the government gives protections to workers of private employers, they can choose to not give those protections to their own employees. The government frequently doesn't have to follow the rules it sets for others.

No government employees should be allowed to strike. They are being paid by other government employees. There is an inherent conflict of interest there. The only way the taxpayers can even marginally be protected from exploding public employee costs is by limiting the powers of government workers to decide how much to pay government workers.

Saw one teacher on the picket line carrying a big prop ball and chain. Oh yeah. Those teachers are SO working in a chain gang. My heart bleeds for the guy. Yeah.

Hairy

Posted by: Hairy Buddah on September 21, 2011 11:37 PM
37. A person may not be forced to work, but certainly they can be mandated to fulfill their obligations under a contract which they have freely signed. And in a breach of contract situation the district has a right to seek court relief. The court has found the teachers to be in violation of their contract and ordered them to go back to work and fulfill their contractual obligations. If they don't obey the Court they can be held in contempt of court and fined or arrested for violating a Court Order. I hope the Judge takes their arrogance seriously and fines them heavily next week.

Posted by: Sally on September 21, 2011 11:57 PM
38. doug, Sally, et al:

You're not answering the question: where in the law is the government granted a right to force public employees to work if they choose to not work?

You can talk all you want about contracts, but that's just begging the question: even if their contract says they will work, where is it written that if they don't, the government can force them to work, rather than some other remedy, such as firing? No, Sally, you cannot be mandated to fulfill your obligations in a contract: you can only be forced to EITHER fulfill those obligations OR compensate the other party in another way.

And the fact that the law says they have no "right to strike" does not make the strike illegal, and does not mean they can be forced to work. It just means their jobs are not protected if they choose to strike. That's all.

I find it troubling that so many here on the right think government has the legitimate authority to force free people, who have not broken any laws nor been found liable in a civil judgment, to do anything.

Posted by: pudge on September 22, 2011 06:29 AM
39. Contempt of court is a crime....one of the more serious crimes, in my opinion as a law and order conservative, far more serious than even murder. That crime's sole purpose is to completely diminish the power and authority of the whole nation's judicial system. And having been done on such a wide visible scale by teachers no less, if I were a judge I would put those responsible for organizing the contempt in prison for the rest of their lives.

Posted by: doug on September 22, 2011 08:19 AM
40. Pudge, on the subject of civil suit and your view that a teacher is just an employee and if they choose not to show up for work they shouldn't be liable for damages:

You are missing the main point, and that is that this is a huge lot of teachers who are intentionally not showing up for work, and are collaborating to cause damage to the school district so that they might be blackmailed into giving them more money.

Damages when shown would easily be granted by a court.

Posted by: doug on September 22, 2011 08:27 AM
41. doug ... you are question-begging. Of course contempt is a crime. But there is only cotempt in the first place because of the court order, and it is the court order that I am questioning the validity of.

If a court orders you to watch MTV for 24 hours in a row, even though you've never been found guilty of a crime or had civil judgment against you, and you refused this unlawful court order, the judge could find you in contempt. But that doesn't justify the court order. You are completely skipping over the part where a civilian court has no legal authority to order anyone to work. We banned slavery well over 100 years ago.

And no, I am missing no point. I defy you to show me anything in the contract that says the teachers are liable for damages caused by not doing anything.

Posted by: pudge on September 22, 2011 08:41 AM
42. The judge said fines "could be" levied which would total 330k per day.

I don't think the fines were actually levied against the union, so the judge doesn't seem to be interested in enforcing his own order.

hmmmm where have we seen this before?

Even sicker is the union threatened the judge with public retaliation if he did enforce the fine.

Posted by: andy on September 22, 2011 08:56 AM
43. Pudge,

Why would liability for damages need to be in a contract? If only it were that easy, I could spend the rest of my life not worried about being sued at all, because I've never signed a contract that says I could be liable.

If I had a contract as a state worker to watch MTV 24 hours a day, and if that contract was legally entered into, and if perchance I decided that I wasn't getting paid enough in the contract I signed to do such duty, then I went about on strike as a public employee, yes, a judge could order me to fulfill my contract.

However, as a bow to you, that in of itself wouldn't be the end, I could in turn refuse to fulfill the contract. However, it is the responsibility of the judge to ensure that the state employee fulfills his contract, once petitioned to do so (just as it is their responsibility to do the same in private contract conflicts).

The judge, having ordered them to fulfill their contract, then being rebuffed, should have ANNULED all of those teachers' contracts. The judge has the power to declare forfeit the obligations of both parties under contract due to the actions of one party.

The judge does not have the authority to 'Fire' the teachers, but does have the authority to declare the individual contracts null.

Posted by: doug on September 22, 2011 04:39 PM
44. doug: I've never signed a contract that says I could be liable.

Not showing up for work is not generally considered harm. In this country, all employment is, by default, at will. I see no grounds in common law or statute for suing for damages because someone doesn't show up for work.


If I had a contract as a state worker to watch MTV 24 hours a day, and if that contract was legally entered into, and if perchance I decided that I wasn't getting paid enough in the contract I signed to do such duty, then I went about on strike as a public employee, yes, a judge could order me to fulfill my contract.

On what basis? Where is it written that he can compel you to do so, instead of forcing you to provide compensation?


it is the responsibility of the judge to ensure that the state employee fulfills his contract, once petitioned to do so

Again, I don't care about that. I am only talking about the order, not what he can or should do once the order has been ignored. Of course he can compel people to comply with an order; but does he have the right to give such an order in the first place? I say no.

Posted by: pudge on September 22, 2011 04:58 PM
45. Suing teacher unions for being on strike is not unheard of in this country, in fact many times it is the parents bringing complaints that creates the first order for the teachers to return to work. A district in this state cannot go to a judge and get an order for teachers to return to work without having properly sworn complaints of parents as to damage caused by striking teachers in hand.

There is no mechanism that a judge can force me to provide compensation....in fact the judge can only require me to fulfill my contracted obligations. It is only at the point that it is determined that I did not fulfill my obligations can a judge then require of me compensation. Until that point, the judge can ONLY require me to fulfill my contracted obligations (in this case the work I or the teachers promised to perform).

That is the only order that a judge can do in the first place. If the judge rather ordered them to provide compensation, no appeals court in the land would back the judge up....first there must be a determination that the employees didn't fulfill their obligations, and evidenciary, that cannot happen for some time. At the point in time the district went to the judge the only action the judge could legally and constitutionally do, was order the teachers to fulfill their contract and it this case that order had to be to return to work under their current contract.

I disagree that the judge could not give that order, it seems that is the only possible lawful order that could be given.

Posted by: doug on September 22, 2011 05:21 PM
46. Pudge, are they being jailed for contempt of court? I believe it is constitutional for a court to enforce a contract, particularly when the government is involved. The teacher has a contract with the state, the teacher is ordered to fulfill the contract. The teacher can leave the contract by quitting. If they choose not to quit and not to perform, they are in contempt of court. That would certainly make it constitutional.

Contracts are enforced by courts all the time, the court can order fines be paid, restitution be made, even specific acts be performed. If the court's orders are not followed, then contempt penalties can be enforced.

Hairy

Posted by: Hairy Buddah on September 22, 2011 09:58 PM
47. Oh..my..God.
I can't believe it. I actually agree with Pudge!
If teachers want to be paid like professionals, then they should be reviewed and rated like professionals, and they should act like professionals. That means, in this case, not letting your "customers" down and showing up and doing your job.

If I don't get a raise at work, I don't whine about it, and refuse to work (which would, and should get me fired). Instead, I either work harder, and/or find a job elsewhere that will pay more.

Posted by: Proteus on September 23, 2011 11:08 AM
48. Shaydo sez: "I'm fairly sure the districts have never come up with contingency plans to hire all new staff."

Pudge replies: "Then the people should fire their school district representatives and get people in there who can do the job."

I weigh in (albeit a bit late): Pudge, dude, did you stop and think about the fact that Tacoma is the third-largest district in the state, and (sadly) a huge majority of the teachers defied the court order and stayed on strike? Do you have any idea how long it would take the district to hire something on the order of 1,000 teachers or more, or where they would find that many qualified individuals on short notice?

Posted by: Kirk Parker on September 25, 2011 01:59 AM
49. Doug,

"(27) 5) Teachers are under contract.....each of them has a signed contract for this current school year. "

Uh, no. You're entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. At the time they voted to go on strike, the Tacoma teachers did not have a contract for the 2011-2012 school year.

And in (30) you say, "Every teacher signed a contract in June or July for this year" but you're just making this up. NO THEY DID NOT YET HAVE CONTRACTS FOR THE CURRENT SCHOOL YEAR.

Posted by: Kirk Parker on September 25, 2011 02:02 AM
50. Kirk, you are wrong.

Each individual teacher has to be under contract to perform work in the classroom, and work was done this year prior to the strike. It is the law, both state and federal.

There are individual teacher contracts which are signed by the district and teachers during the early summer right after the previous school year ends. Then there is a NEGOTIATED AGREEMEENT between the union and district that sets work conditions. Each teacher has been under contract since June or July, the NEGOTIATED AGREEMENT usually ends after the school year every two or three years and it is that which is out of date.

By state law, the conditions set forth in the NEGOTIATED AGREEMENT continue for up to one year after the official end date, or until another agreement is reached. If that doesn't happen, then the district may implement it's best offer, despite what the union says....(assuming no unfair labor or bargaining practices ocurred to that point.)

Posted by: doug on September 25, 2011 07:46 AM
51. Kirk: Pudge, dude, did you stop and think about the fact that Tacoma is the third-largest district in the state, and (sadly) a huge majority of the teachers defied the court order and stayed on strike?

Yes.

Did you stop and think about the fact that strikes cost the state and the students millions, and that the ONLY real recourse is firing/suspension/etc., and that if the school districts don't take such action then we will continue to see more and more costly strikes?

Yes, it would be hard. I know there's a lot of comments here and I don't expect you to read them all, but I did say that the district should probably start slowly and just fire some of them at first, and then continue until the strike ended or everyone was fired, instead of firing them all at once. And I would certainly fast-track re-hiring of the teachers should the strike end. And I realize it wouldn't mean they would magically find more teachers on short notice. But it would help prevent future strikes, I guarantee you that.

Posted by: pudge on September 25, 2011 07:56 AM
52. Proteus: watch it, you're going to get kicked out of the Democratic Party for talking like that.

Posted by: pudge on September 25, 2011 07:59 AM
53. The whole public school system is shameful. Out in the real world, no sane group of people would ever build an organization that pits its key human capital against management. If you look at the private sector, unions are in decline for exactly this reason. They are outdated. Adults behaving like children. And in fact, many children I know, are better behaved than many union workers. Longview? Wisconsin?

Public Employee Unions are angry selfish collectivists who put their protected, overpaid boondoggles ahead of the freedom and well being of their fellow Americans.

Posted by: Jeff B. on September 25, 2011 10:11 AM
54. Maybe the costs for firing them are greater than the costs of meeting enough of their demands to make them happy. Funny that often the same people who are all for cutting costs don't worry about costs when it comes to political issues they strongly support/don't support. Those kinds of of poser fiscal conservatives think it's okay to fire them to make a political statement, even though in the end it will cost more, costs that will eventually be the tax-payers' burden.

Posted by: Mikec on September 27, 2011 09:39 PM
55. F.U. pudge

I dont havea "right " to strike.
I strike and I lose my job and I get sued.

signed,
Doc.

Posted by: schwingdoc on September 27, 2011 11:29 PM
56. Are police, fire, postal and other public servant unions any different?

Posted by: Mikec on September 28, 2011 12:24 AM
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