The Ridgefield Washington teachers strike is going into its second week with stalled contract negotiations hinging on funding for student mental health support, special education improvements, and a better program for student interventions.
While the school district management and negotiators are working to end the strike, the students languish without the normal support they would receive had they been in school. The most obvious loss would be the learning experience in the classroom itself but includes the social aspect involving sports and the physical exercise needed by growing young bodies, band, and other cultural clubs and after school activities held at school.
One aspect of this involves the school lunch program for students unable to bring or purchase lunches are now left with no lunch at all, for whatever reason. Whether they come from a home suffering from food insecurity or they are too young to make their own lunches at home, many are struggling.
The school district itself has essentially abandoned these children and has offered no support, shoving the blame on the striking teachers in the eyes of the parents and community. The teachers union stepped in and seized the narrative by offering free lunches to all students at local facilities and relieving the parents of a huge concern piled onto their childcare woes.
They've learned the power of narrative.
The Minnesota nurses strike, 15,000 strong, is calling for better care for their patients, shorter working hours and more staffing to combat burnout plaguing the entire industry nationwide. No mention of wages.
We all remember the trauma the nurses and doctors went through in the last two years with Covid devastating the country. Working long hours, some 24/7 for weeks at a time, many burned out and left the occupation feeling used and abused, unappreciated, and unable to serve their patients effectively.
Heros no longer work there, or was that just an empty narrative?
The barely averted railroad strike sounded similar abuses, long hours, often far away from home, industry safety lapses, and wages consistently falling behind inflation. The RR union is pushing the narrative of "If you think the Covid debacle disrupted the supply chain, wait until there is no rail traffic at all".
Working conditions in the rail industry have become so bad that younger people are even harder to find to replace the aging and retiring workers.
And Corporate America wails that they cannot find good help!
It's way past time for them to realize they must show current and future employees that they appreciate and welcome them.
Good wages are not enough. Protecting them from burnout is essential to keeping them focused and productive on their jobs.
Any hint of exploitation of the work force will result in blowback in spades. Learn the meaning of "quiet quitting".
The problem will only get worse, as indicated by the recent explosion of union activity increasing the wailing of the workforce that is your means of profit.
A union renaissance could be avoided with wise improvements in working conditions, affordable health benefits, secure pension plans, and inflation proof wages.
Sadly, the quest for billionaire hood will fail to see this truth and result in loss for all involved.
I will be at the farm and hopefully will be able to respond.
The floor is open.