There is a lot of angry whining rising from the streets of Chicago. Chicago Teachers Union members are showing themselves to be cut from the same cloth as the occupiers who infested the city during the NATO Summit.
Chicago teachers have swapped places with the occupiers. They found time to wail away during a work day rally this week while the Chicago Teachers Union continued threats to cut off an essential public service with a strike. Most of us could not conceive of working under the conditions teachers are complaining about. If we were asked to work a 7.5 hour day we would question our employer’s sanity. That suggestion was made by Chicago’s mayor in April and was greeted with such angst and anger by teachers union members that he had to retreat to a plan for a 7-hour teacher work day.
To be fair, the working lives of Chicago teachers are unfamiliar to most of us, including not working a full year and receiving lifetime pension and health benefits in exchange for nominal payroll contributions. When you give someone too much, they tend to expect more.
There is a lot of Arne Duncan-style rhetoric going on here, including charges of disrespecting teachers (see: How Democrats are Stealing Education From Your Children). Instead of considering rabble rousing organizations like teachers unions to be just as much a threat to our country’s future prospects as joblessness and a faltering economy, bureaucrats have indulged teachers union demands and given unions a place at the planning table (see: Union Stance Ridicules Duncan’s Collaboration Efforts).
This week’s dog and pony show involved thousands of Chicago teachers and seemed like a flashback to the occupiers who tried to disrupt the NATO Summit. Did the teachers union decide to take a few tips from the occupiers, or does taking to the streets to voice your demands come naturally to those who believe that not being given whatever you want means you are being treated unfairly?
Chicago Teachers Union members and the occupiers have more in common than either group would probably be comfortable admitting. Neither will ever be happy with what they get. Occupiers will be especially difficult to appease, considering that many don’t appear to have a means of support. Both groups anticipate being taken care of, teachers at great cost to taxpayers after they retire and the occupiers through the charity of others (see: Occupy Depends on Wall Street for Rights, Justice, and Jobs). Both believe that their demands are justified despite how absurd they look to the rest of us. Most important, both have the option of doing something else if they are unhappy with their lot. Teachers can find other jobs, perhaps in private schools for lower pay and benefits. The occupiers could try working instead of justifying doing nothing.
Most Americans are used to working hard and expect to end their careers with 401(k)s and no health benefits, retirements considerably more modest than what teachers are gifted in Illinois. Teachers work hard, but feelings of entitlement cultivated by their unions lead them to believe that they are being slighted. With pension reform becoming a necessity that even Illinois Democrats take seriously, Chicago Teachers Union members might find out just how well they were doing before sanity took over in Springfield.