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EDITORIAL: CCSD should be prepared to take legal action to stop a strike

Every parent has been there. A 3-year-old wants a toy from the store, but his dad tells him, “No.” The child then tries to get his way by throwing a tantrum.

The adult has the ability to end the situation by walking away or hauling his son out of the store. The alternative is to allow his son to embarrass him into capitulation.

An analogous situation is riling the Clark County School District.

Leaders of the Clark County Education Association are upset the district isn’t giving teachers a bigger raise. The district, however, didn’t have the money to fund the increase it has offered to all its employees. Anticipating these pay hikes, Superintendent Jesus Jara told principals a few weeks ago to reduce their budgets.

Union executive director John Vellardita — emboldened by high-profile teacher walkouts in other states — has called for a strike on Sept. 10 if the union isn’t satisfied with the district’s final proposal. This is a direct shot at Gov. Steve Sisolak and legislative Democrats.

A strike would disrupt the learning of the district’s 320,000 students. That’s one good reason why public employee strikes are illegal in Nevada. The mere possibility of a strike is already causing uncertainty for parents, many of whom work during the school day.

It’s unclear how many teachers would participate. Only 54 percent of teachers belong to the union. According to information put out by the union, it’s likely only around 4,000 teachers out of 18,000 have expressed a willingness to strike.

So far, Mr. Jara has been conciliatory to a fault. The district could seek a court injunction to impose heavy fines on the union and its leaders if they carry out a strike. In a Thursday meeting with the Review-Journal editorial board, he said he viewed going to court as “a last resort.” Mr. Jara said he is “trying to exhaust all bargaining avenues that we have to address this before we get into going into court.”

Asked to condemn the union for pushing an illegal strike, Mr. Jara demurred, saying only, “I think we need to go through the negotiating process.” He added, “We have to follow the law. What are we teaching our children?”

Perhaps playing nice with the union will work. But perhaps the union and Mr. Vellardita are as interested in a reasonable discussion as a screaming toddler.

There is already a mechanism in place to settle labor disputes. The union should allow it to play out — regardless of flaws in the arbitration process — rather than urge its members to break the law. Meanwhile, the district and Mr. Jara should be ready to use all the tools at their disposal to prevent an illegal strike. That includes speaking forcefully against the union’s unlawful tactics. This is not the time for unilateral surrender.

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