By Ethan Nikfar
Over the last few months, Democrat-controlled cities across the country, from San Francisco to Chicago, have bent to the whims of the teachers’ unions. Parents and kids across the states have longed to return to semi-normal, in-person instruction. But these parents and children are just minor incidental inconveniences to our teachers’ unions that have continuously defied science and common sense in their nonsensical pursuit of school shutdowns.
One of the most important developments of the pandemic has been that study after study has shown the meager risk posed to teachers when reopening schools. To date, there has not been a single documented case in America of a teacher getting infected by a student and then dying of COVID-19.
Given the evidence, one would assume that the right path would be to reopen our schools and to allow our students to attend school in-person. Everyone understands the need for community and social bonds, especially for young children.
However, teachers’ unions have remained steadfast in their wish of not returning in-person until all COVID-19 risks have been eliminated (that is to say, indefinitely, folks). And with that, it has become evident that the Biden administration and various other Democrats across the country have been willing to entirely forgo the data on schools and what is best for kids to please these unions.
Even the vaunted CDC – the gold-standard for science as we are told – recommends that 90 percent of schools be either entirely online or hybrid. What they will not tell you is that about half of K-12 students across the United States have already returned to in-person classes that are five days a week. The CDC’s backward and preposterous standards come on the heels of the fact that COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths have declined precipitously over the last several months due to vaccinations and the incredible number of people that have already had COVID-19.
So how did we get here? How did our children’s wellbeing depend directly on politicians and their support for unions?
Here is how the corrupt union-government bargain scheme works: Politicians vow to negotiate with unions; public employees would want to feel represented, so they join unions. Unions take dues from their members. Unions then spend those dues electing politicians they like. Once those politicians get elected, they agree to pro-union contracts using that endless supply of taxpayer dollars. This cycle continues and continues. The winners are, of course, Democratic politicians and the public-sector unions. The losers are the taxpayers, who are subsidizing both unions that may kneecap their interests and Democratic politicians they may not support.
According to OpenSecrets.org, in 2020, public-sector unions gave $79 million to political candidates, parties, and outside groups. 89 percent of those contributions were given to Democrats. When it comes to those teachers’ unions, the National Education Association gave $33 million to political groups and candidates in 2020, most of which went to Democrats. The American Federation of Teachers also gave $18 million to political groups and candidates in 2020, nearly all going to Democrats.
The ironic part is that the Democratic Party – which lauds against money in politics and fights for campaign finance reform – is the same party that supports these unions’ extreme political spending.
Under the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, private-sector employees at different companies can collude to collectively bargain and negotiate a specific pay scale for the employees. As a part of this legislation, employers are forced to negotiate with guilds as long as they could prove that they represent most workers. However, why is this kind of worker collusion never allowed for employers as well? Imagine for a second that a bunch of different employers in a particular industry colluded together to offer the same pay scale to their employees. They would get endlessly maligned as having engaged in monopolistic collusion, and there would be calls for antitrust lawsuits against them.
Some may argue that this kind of worker collusion is necessary because workers do not want to get treated horribly by their employers. That is fair to an extent, but why would this standard apply to public-sector workers? In a private-sector union, employees negotiate with the employer the kinds of wages they want to be paid because the employer is the one paying the wage. But with public-sector workers, the employers do not pay the wage; the taxpayers do. How can there be bargaining between employers and employees when taxpayers are the ones footing the bill?
The people paying the wages ought to have the ability to fight for their interests and be represented in collective bargaining agreements.
Not only is the process corrupt, but in many states, public unions can strike, acting directly against the interests of the taxpayers who fund them. Even FDR understood that the ability of public-sector employees to strike was “unthinkable and intolerable.”
The individuals elected to represent taxpayers end up representing the people who got them elected in the first place – the public-sector unions. How does this relate back to those teachers’ unions? Well, in 2020, President Joe Biden received more money from teachers’ unions than any politician in the country. This, of course, is of no surprise and is why Mr. Biden repeatedly refuses to say that students need to go back to full-time, in-person instruction immediately. On the same predictable note, Mr. Biden’s Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, would not commit to schools going back in-person in the fall.
The teachers’ unions are now demanding the vaccination of all staff before they go back in-person. This would mean that it could take well into the next school year before students can return to in-person instruction. Even California’s governor, Gavin Newsom – deep in the pockets of the teachers’ unions – is at odds with their ridiculous demands. However, what Mr. Newsom will not do is actually hold them accountable and cut their funding (and put it elsewhere, like back to parents themselves) if they choose not to go back to the classroom.
Like all other public-sector unions, teachers’ unions want to negotiate the best wages and working conditions for their employees. But the place to address these problems is at the legislative level, where taxpayers have the ability to defend themselves. Public-sector unions circumvent this process entirely, squeezing taxpayers’ pockets and holding students hostage in the process.
The worship of teachers’ unions by the Democratic Party – which has done irreversible harm to our youth – will certainly not go forgotten. We can only hope that voters in 2022 will hold them accountable for their dishonest dealings.
Mr. Nikfar is a Sophomore at Chapman University studying Pre-Pharmacy.