“Sickout” = Wildcat Strike

Per wiki, the definition of a wildcat strike:

A wildcat strike action, often referred to as a wildcat strike, is a strike action taken by workers without the authorization of their trade union officials. This is sometimes termed unofficial industrial action.

Lets start calling the teachers’ “sickout” what it really is. A wildcat strike. Madison schools will be closed for the third day in a row. Milwaukee schools are now closed. In what may be an interesting indicator, many of the more rural school districts are open today, where they were closed yesterday. I have a feeling that those in the outlying areas who aren’t as beholden to the teachers’ unions as the folks in and around Madison have made it pretty clear that they are not happy.

I have heard that there will be counter protests today and/or Saturday. I may be down there Saturday afternoon after work.

There are rumors that there may be class action lawsuits brewing against the teachers’ unions on behalf of the parents. I hope some of the school districts have the stones to hold the teachers’ feet over the fire for breaking their contract due to the wildcat strike.

I certainly will help with any and all recall efforts and to bring back our missing legislators. Thinking about it on the way in to work this morning, I have essentially been disenfranchised, as my legislator is sitting in my hometown of Rockford as I write this, instead of representing me at the capitol. Whether I voted for him or not does not matter. His office has heard from me once already electronically. I will be mailing them a hardcopy letter today. His office staff will get to see my smiling face in the not so distant future. I will have to rehearse my lines and try to control my anger when I go there.

22 thoughts on ““Sickout” = Wildcat Strike”

  1. I guess this is a Libertarian blog, but I consider myself a Conservative, which I take to be the fusion of various strands in American political thought brought together by W F Buckley. I value liberty, both as an abstract ideal as well as a pragmatic consideration regarding the nature of how people act when offered choices, where respect for property rights is an important expression of that liberty. I revere tradition: just as free markets represent distributed knowledge that is impossible to have in a central authority, tradition and custom represent such distributed knowledge in the social sphere.

    I believe in taking the long view regarding political and social change. I believe in patience, that my political program is a direction in which to steer society rather than an immediate demand. I believe in pragmatism, not that I would compromise with evil, but I don’t regard every difference with my point of view as representing an immediate crisis where evil will triumph. I believe in civility and taking the high road in political discourse, even when calls for such civility come from quarters that do not practice it themselves, because in my Conservative beliefs, I regard myself as belonging to a natural aristocracy, and civility is a highly regarded tradition.

    I am skeptical of the Union Movement, for its disregard for property rights, proclivity for utopian schemes, quickness to resort to uncivil behavior, and politics of simplistic slogans. On the other hand, unions are an institution with a more than 100 year tradition in our society, perhaps with antecedants in Medieval guilds going back 1000 years, and as a Conservative, I am not quick to dismissing a portion of society with that much tradition behind it out of hand.

    As a Conservative, I am also supportive of a kind of political honesty in counter to the Orwellian dishonesty that is so common. I have been quick to call the action by our local teachers a “wildcat strike”, much as I call the proposed Budget Repair bill advanced by Governor Walker that triggered that strike “a pay cut” coupled with a “union busting” repeal of union authority on bargaining and compulsary dues.

    As a Conservative, I am also thoroughly skeptical of democracy (along with politicians who call themselves Democratic instead of Democrats), and our system of governance is a republic, not a democracy, which is an important distinction. I rather admire the resourcefullness of the Fugitive 14 Wisconsin State Senators for engaging in their parliamentary maneuver much as I revere supermajorities and other means of placing brakes and checks in our political system against precipitous refroms. Dan From Madison, your State Senator is certainly not representing your views, but whether that person is representing the views of voters in your district will be resolved by whether that recall initiative even gets off the ground.

    As a Conservative, I regard public demonstrations as a social tradition and a Consitutional right, but I tend to think of them as uncivil and unbecoming members of the natural aristocracy. As a pragmatist, if you think that you can organize counter-crowds of the same size as the opposition, a crowd that, dunno, takes phrases from Burke or Hayek for its chants and is civic-minded to pick up its own trash, more power to you. I am thinking that you are going to get a pitifully small crowd, especially drawing on Madison and Dane county, and the optics will work against you.

    The natural aristocracy includes artisans and thinkers such as yourself, Dan From Madison, and aristocrats don’t “do” such mass demonstrations.

  2. Well Paul, we can agree to disagree. I am not being represented in the capitol by my elected representative. He is in Rockford or Chicago or somewhere. I am essentially disenfranchised. Whether I voted for him or not is irrelevant. If my candidate doesn’t win, I take the lumps and try harder the next time, but respect the fact that my opposition won.

    I am a simple guy and think simple thoughts. I have no representation in the state senate as the situation stands. It is pretty black and white to me.

    As to the size of any counter demonstration crowd, I guess we won’t know unless we try. I just went to the Wisconsin Tea Party website and there is no mention of anything. You are right, any counter demonstration will probably be dwarfed in size by the current one. That doesn’t make it bad in my eyes though.

  3. I consider myself to have common sense. Tit for tat is the most successful game strategy. Make it as personal as they have. Unions are legalized gangs. Demonstrate at the homes of the gangleaders and terrorize their families. Doesn’t take as many people to have the same effect.

  4. I agree with Paul’s opinion that the long term is what matters. The senators hiding out in Rockford, and the unions orchestrating the shut down of schools are not doing themselves any favors. They have offered up no alternatives to Wisconsin’s budget crisis – just a selfish response. Punishing the voters/taxpayers’ by shutting down the schools, and senators making national laughingstocks of themselves by hiding out in Illinois only solidifies the Governor’s case for stripping these buffoons of power. The longer the schools are closed, and the longer the senators avoid responsibilityy, the better it will be for Wisconsin in the long haul.

  5. RE: Obama weighing in on the “assault on unions”…

    Anyone remember the public excoriation Obama gave the guaranteed secured bondholders in GM, calling them greedy because they were unwilling to accept pennies on the dollars in the GM contrary to US Bankruptcy Laws…and effectively gave GM to the unions?

  6. Great work on all this Dan. I had to laugh when I saw that the Dems were holed up at the clock tower hotel in Rockford.

    It was never going to be easy to try turn around the massive money that we are shoveling into union workers and try to re-balance the relationship between taxpayers and those that provide service to the taxpayers. The fact that they are doing this wildcat strike shows how desperate they are.

    What is the overall tone in Wisconsin on this? I am sure the Madison media is going nuts in favor of the teachers but do you think the governor has the support of most of the people?

    Either way, I admire the heck out of that Wisconsin governor, and maybe next election we can get rid of Quinn and try the same process here in Illinois. Or the Republicans here can just continue to vote 100% no or run out of the state (to Indiana?) to block these tax and spend bills.

  7. “The overall tone in Wisconsin”…hard for me to put a finger on it. In the November election, the overall tone was to toss the dems out in a GIANT way, as evidenced by the governor, and both houses going R. I will give you some anecotal evidence.

    Trade union guys don’t give a damn about the teachers. People are getting very tired of not being able to send their kids to school. Even normally non-partisan radio people are saying that this isn’t a sickout anymore. I think the fact that the rural schools are in session is a very important indicator that is overlooked.

    I don’t know even if the R’s in Illinois fled to Indiana if that would not get you a quorum in the IL state house/senate. I really don’t want them to flee like the Dems up here. I want our elected officials to govern, and if they aren’t the ones we vote for, I want them voted out.

  8. According to the Illinois papers a rather large contingent of the Madison protest is comprised of folks from Illinois, rather than Wisconsin. Chicago, Rockford and Moline are busing people to fill the ranks. My guess is that, when you boil off out-of-staters, kids given the day off of school to join the fun, the usual liberal rabble who have nothing better to do than to show up at just about any protest, and those paid to be there, the number of real, live Wisconsin teachers protesting is quite small.

  9. I’m not sure why there is any surprise here regarding the protests, school closures etc.

    The Wisconsn governor made a strategic attack on unions from a blueprint handed to him by an out of state org which, if successful would give him many political advantages in the short and medium term and enormous money for the writers of this legislation in the long term.

    The long term effect on the teachers from the governor’s proposal is that school boards will be able to fire everyone who is expensive for being expensive and replace them with cheap new hires. An outcome greatly desired by a small cadre of deep pocket equity investors proposing to “reform” education by having private management companies be contracted to supervise public school districts -i.e. they will be an additional layer of costs superimposed on the existing bureaucracy, defrayed in part by driving down wages and, later, raising taxes to pay for “reforms” initiated by the private contractors. Taxpayers will not get a break, education will not be reformed, it will be milked.

    This is a 50 state blueprint by a few rich guys – the Crown family, for one – who are invested in defense companies that expect to see shrinking DoD budgets, so they are now moving into education and health care fields as business opportunities with government regs establishing their market position and share.

    These same investors were big Obamacare backers but the unions are in the way of future profit maximization because education labor costs are not optimized to an hourly rate of semi-skilled labor(about $12-13 an hour) with no benefits. Imagine p/t proctors at a computer test taking center as “teachers” – that is the long term goal for public ed.

    So, from the standpoint of the teacher’s unions, they have absolutely nothing to lose here by making an all out stand in Wisconsin. Breaking the union is not even the objective here (it is the method), the objective is de-professionalizing education while keeping the public ed. system itself intact as a captive market. Same reason the Obamacare regs remove power and choice from doctors, patients and employers – it isn’t to just destroy insurance companies, it is to capture an industry and squeeze out the $ surplus into relatively few hands.

  10. Hi PS

    Well, the best way to look at this is “the enemy of my enemy is not always my friend” and cui bono?

    Some political causes of the right and left make good Trojan horses for the oligarchy to find a way to cash in – they don’t really care if it is carbon Tax credits to fight”global warming” or “education reform”‘ or gas taxes to “conserve energy” or eliminating home mortgage deductions to “fight the deficit” so long as a government directed revenue stream is headed toward their pockets, directly or through bailouts

  11. Full disclosure, I’m a member of a police union. I cannot strike, we negotiate a contract every year. In the event of disagreement the union must prevail first in arbitration, then in a public referendum. If the union loses either one, the employers last best offer is the contract. We have had only one referendum in 25 years. No forced dues.

    Is that really harmful to society?

    As a conservative, I tend to look upon banning and mandates with a certain jaundiced eye. I also wonder what some politician must think of me when he exempts police work from a proposed ban. Does he need a guy with a gun, or does he think I believe the crocodile will be too full to look my way later?

    As a conservative, I also hang out a lot with other conservatives and sometimes I wonder if they think I don’t notice the way they regard me when they learn I’m just a street cop. I only mention this because I think the resurgence of the conservative cause in this country sometimes takes for granted that there are a lot of ex-soldiers, nurses, teachers, firemen and wrench turners on the voting rolls, and we are keenly aware of how the mercantile class operates when not restrained.

  12. Yes.

    For instance, In union-heavy Milwaukee, contracts terms granted to police unions by elected officials trying to get endorsements for electoral advantage over time, have prevented the firing and demotions of Sheriff deputies who have allowed prisoners to escape because they were sleeping on the job.

    As for the Milwaukee Public Schools Teacher’s Union they are paid well and yet they graduate students with grade schools read/write/calculate skills.

    All changes in the schools are opposed. Good luck firing a bad teacher. Heck, good luck trying to find metrics to even calculate who is a good and who is a bad teacher. The union is opposed to those calculations be made.

    The Teacher’s union PoV is that classes need to be smaller and teachers need to be paid more. Got that? Less work, more pay. Outcomes be dammed. Taxpayers be dammed.

    Read the text at the link [1] I posted (I was the commenter at the other blog that got it going).

    In the end it doesn’t matter. The state is going bankrupts. Years of anti-entrepreneur/anti-business policies have driven employers and capital from the state. The linkage of politicians, bureaucrats and Gov Employee Union among other things has bled the state and the taxpayers dry. There isn’t more money for them to suck out.

    That is why the CITIZENS of Wisconsin overwhelming in the recent election elected Walker as Gov and handed the legislature over to the republicans. If the Repubs back down and don’t fix things then we will bounce them out of office and end them as a party in Wisconsin.

    Wisconsin has recall elections. We are not afraid to use them.

    Also, don’t take this to mean I am in favor dumping school board and replacing them with unelected boards. We have those in Milwaukee too. One of them just screwed over [2] us taxpayers this week.

    I am pretty pissed off.

    I should have fun with my Milwaukee Public School protesting in Madison teachers sisters this weekend along with my union member Mom and Dad!



  13. Zen, I am about sure what your are talking about. WI faces a budget shortfall this year and really large budget shortfalls in the next few years. Walker’s suggestions are pretty mild (he proposed and implemented some similar things as Milwaukee County Exec) as an alternative to laying off 4000-8000 state employees. Those layoffs BTW would not directly include teachers. As part of the fix, some money going to school districts (including the Milwaukee Public Schools)would be reduced which I guess could have led to teacher layoffs. Then again, the schools – especially the Milwaukee Public Schools – spend tremendous amounts money and do a crappy a job. They have plenty of funding to spare[1]. Their direct customer – the students are doing horrible [2]. The world the students has come from has changed dramatically but MPS refuses to change. The end results is that MPS is most likely the worst performing organization in the state. The failure of MPS is a generations of wasted human capital [3] and loss of future wealth for Wisconsin’s residents.




  14. Purple,

    I’m somewhat unclear as to how the union contracts “led to” the retention of deputies who sleep on the job. I kind of doubt there was a clause which allowed naps while guarding prisoners. There might have been a clause which guaranteed a right to a hearing or allowed the deputy to answer the complaint to an unbiased third party. In any case, its a pretty solid concept of the interchange of free men that contracts are contracts. Of course no arrangement guarantees there won’t be outrageous incidents, just as employment with no contract and no bargaining will not guarantee the jobs of patrolmen who arrest the friends of the powerful for driving drunk or beating their wives, or the jobs of teachers who give little lord fauntleroy an F.

    If the state has no money to fund any increases, then thats that. There is no reason why they can’t simply cut the budget and live with the consequences. It smells like they simply want to fire all the older teachers and replace them with 24 year olds, only to fire those when they get close to vesting.

    The fact that you are having this debate with someone who has voted R in every election since 1988 might be a thing to ponder. I once voted for a democrat for judge but he was my friend.

    Oh BTW I am unsympathetic to the Dems who don’t show up and vote. Thems the rules, sometimes you simply have to take the lumps.

  15. “Thems the rules, sometimes you simply have to take the lumps.” – Tom, in this whole thing, this is what has me the most upset. The state senators taking a road trip is unbelievable and inexcusable.

  16. Dan, I think your definition fails at the first hurdle. You quote:

    “…a strike action taken by workers without the authorization of their trade union officials.”

    What makes you think the sick-out is without authorization? Perhaps not public authorization, but I sincerely doubt that union was counseling teachers to stay on the job for the sake of the children.

  17. Zen: I am not buying. As governor Walker pointed out this evening, they will still be civil service, they will still have tenure. And BTW, when I think of the amount of deadweight that my kids had to endure on their trip through the local public school system, it makes me ill. Saying that dumping the unions will throw us into the jaws of Scylla ignores our plight now in battling Charybdis.

  18. “What makes you think the sick-out is without authorization? Perhaps not public authorization, but I sincerely doubt that union was counseling teachers to stay on the job for the sake of the children.”

    Surely there has been private authorization of this. But no public authorization – and that is really all that counts. That is exactly why it is a wildcat strike.

    The Madison School District is suing to get a restraining order to get the teachers to get back to school. They have failed on their first try.

    It is illegal for teachers to strike in the state of Wisconsin anyway, so any strike, wildcat or otherwise, is against the law – making it a moot discussion.

  19. “Zen: I am not buying. As governor Walker pointed out this evening, they will still be civil service, they will still have tenure. And BTW, when I think of the amount of deadweight that my kids had to endure on their trip through the local public school system”

    Separate your feelings from this. It’s a strictly legal question.

    All tenure means is the right to a due process hearing prior to dismissal for cause. The disciplinary process at the district level is typically a subject of collective bargaining as is the process for handling grievances -i.e. violations of the contract (Appeals are handled by state officials under the school code and are not subject to collective bargaining).

    Remove that and tenure is as meaningless as any district wishes it to be, barring being overruled by a Federal appeals court on 14th amendment grounds, which is why I said the governor’s bill was a “strategic” move. It clears the path to go after any teacher for pretty much any reason you’d like to concoct after the fact.

    Now you may say that’s a good thing or not but when proposing this the governor should reasonably have expected a fight to the death with the unions. It’s simply not very logical to expect one’s political opponents to roll over when you boldly announce your intent to destroy them. Most groups, Left, Right or Center will fight back. Gov. Walker would have gotten a similar reaction from, say the NRA, if he tried to effectively abolish firearm ownership. It would be a war.

    Unless in this instance, he didn’t really understand the implications of his own proposal because it wasn’t really something he came up with but just took and ran with. I din’t know the guy or Wisconsin politics but similar proposals were just attempted to be fast-tracked here by six Madigan’s cronies who had suddenly received $ 600,000 in campaign donations from a shadowy out of state group. They called it “education reform” but not they are calling it deficit reduction.

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