In New York State, teachers are prohibited from striking by the Taylor Law and the Triboro Doctrine (Amendment) which keeps all terms and conditions of teacher contracts in full force and effect until a successor agreement is negotiated.
There is no arbitration in teacher contract disputes, although there is non-binding mediation available if negotiations reach an impasse. If mediation does not work, another similar approach called super conciliation may help school districts and teachers resolve their differences. If not, then there is always the passage of time which inevitably will heal all wounds, as the expression goes.
Many people have strong negative feelings about the Triboro Doctrine. Calls for repealing this part of the law seem endless and on-going. The main issue for tax payers is the continuation of step-and-grade increases to teachers sometimes for years after a contract has expired. There is a distinct impression that Triboro has removed incentives for teacher unions to bargain meaningfully with their school districts. There is some truth to that viewpoint.
So let’s look at the other side of the coin, where the Triboro Doctrine does not exist, such as Illinois. As it did in New York, school started in Illinois on Tuesday. Next week, however, the teachers in Chicago are set to go on strike, having already filed the legally required 10-day Notice of Strike with the city. Two nearby suburban school districts have also voted to strike, and may hit the bricks later this month.
Here’s my question:
Are we better off in New York where teachers cannot strike under penalty of heavy fines (two day’s pay for one day on strike plus seizure of union dues), and the possibility of jail time (which has been meted-out to violators in the past), but we keep on paying step raises…
Or, are they better off in Chicago, where teachers unions can take a strike vote, file a 10-day notice, and then walk off their jobs indefinitely? The city of Chicago would save not only step increases, but also the entire teachers payroll and all benefits costs except retirement premiums. Of course, no teaching, no education would be taking place during the strike, and relations would not be improving, either.
What do you think?
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org