Mark Butterworth at Liberty's Torch has a really interesting perspective on the strike that I absolutely never thought of.
The teachers are merely pawns, but here’s the kicker: they are mostly white, female pawns and so they’ve got to go. As Steve Sailer has often pointed out about disparate impact in police and firemen’s groups where having to pass basic tests to get hired has caused blacks and hispanics to be hired at very low rates, the courts have insisted the tests are discriminatory based on race.In Butterworth's view, the point of the whole situation in Chicago is to get rid of those white females and give those nice fat checks to minorities. He does present some data to back his argument. Go read.
Now, as much as we might despise public unions, they’re the only ones who are fighting to protect white police, firemen, and teachers in preserving their jobs.
In Chicago, the threat to the teachers is that they are against the system of new evaluations intended to weed out ineffective teachers and improve classroom learning. But that’s really code for getting the white teachers out.
In general, like most folks, I don't care to work in union environments and have only worked in a couple during my career. I fully understand the desire to negotiate a pay rate, though. Corporations don't, as a rule, go buy things at the first quoted price; they negotiate. I get that. So why shouldn't workers negotiate, too? They could. The only drawback is what happens when they negotiate a price much higher than the market would pay. In that case, much like the factory paying more for their sheet metal or their plastic parts, they would try to find a cheaper source. A cheaper labor source probably means moving to place with lower wages, either a non-unionized place (a right to work state) or offshore. In the long run, then, unions can only really survive with trade protectionism or captive markets. Perhaps electrical power, phone, gas and other utilities, whose rates are overseen or set by state commissions, or perhaps trades like plumbers and electricians. These are jobs that can't be outsourced. (Hello Bangalore? I'm in Penobscot, Maine, in the US and my toilet won't flush. What do you mean, "so what?"? )
Outsourcing has many justifications. In many cases, it's a trade between the saved labor costs and the other costs. These jobs can't stay unionized for the long term, in my view. Most companies won't offshore to save a few percent, but they will do it to save half the cost. A union has a very small margin to negotiate over the market rate for labor before those jobs leave. The total costs of business in the US, including the regulatory burden for US workers, have forced many jobs overseas. It's the old story about unintended consequences and the fact that congress never seems to think to the next move - to use a chess analogy.