Want to Reopen Schools? Better Be Ready to Bargain

Mike Antonucci:

Here in California, state officials have made it clear that they will issue guidelines for school reopenings, but the ultimate decision will be left to the individual districts. In the eyes of the California Teachers Association, that means collective bargaining.

Last week CTA issued its stance on school reopenings, listing those things the union wants to see in place before returning to work. These included precautions with consensus agreement, like face masks, deep cleaning, physical distancing and hand washing.

CTA went beyond those, however, stating, “Schools and colleges cannot reopen safely with the funding level proposed in the revised budget plan.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget revision foresees a $54 billion budget deficit and calls for substantial cuts in spending, including a 10 percent cut to the state’s aid to local school districts.

In the worst case labor scenario, California schools will see a virtual statewide strike, where teachers will refuse to return to work either for safety or budgetary reasons, or both. Recent practice suggests such disputes will be settled with imaginary money, so I suspect any work stoppage would be a relatively short one.