Monday, November 24, 2008

Do I look powerful to you?

I've always thought of CTA as one of those big competition body builders -- always interested in looking powerful, but often fearful of using its power in a substantial way.

While California's state legislature meets in emergency session to solve California's budget woes, I'm still wondering when CTA is going to step up to the plate.  In the governor's "good" scenario, the mid-year budget cuts are going to amount to about 3%.  Because districts have already spent half of the year's money, that will feel like a 6% program cut; which will fall most directly on the services that support the students which need the most support.  The good scenario is tragic.  The bad scenario --  if the state legislature can't come up with some new revenue, we're looking at trimming more than 10% of the educational program -- is impossible to imagine.

Unfortunately, the state legislature is also broken.  A 60% majority of both houses is held hostage by the legislature's minority.  And despite the political shellacking that conservatives received in the election, they still "own" the state's budget process.  It's virtually impossible to raise revenue.

So I've been dreaming up some hard-ball tactics that my Union could take:
• Imagine a coordinated work action, like a work to rule, a sick-in or a strike aimed just at those legislative districts where the legislature refuses to raise revenue.  How will the people of those communities feel about their no-new-taxes-promising legislators when their whole communities are shut down.
• Imagine a statewide one-day strike.  It's kind of difficult to find 300,000 scabs  on the same day.
• Imagine a statewide extended strike.  Daycare options would be a little challenging for families who would normally bring their kids to school.  The state would functionally shut down.  How quickly would the legislature react in those circumstances?
• Imagine if CTA uses its relationships with the other state Unions whose workers are in the crossfires of the budget mess.  Time to start demanding that new state constitution.

Sure, there are more marginal responses.  I really only believe in using the amount of force that's necessary to allow our schools to serve our kids.  If writing letters works, I'm good with that.  It just hasn't worked with this legislature yet.

And what's the point of having all of those muscles if you're not going to use them?