Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009 | On Tuesday, Jan. 13, San Diego Unified school board member Katherine Nakamura decried a decision by the Board of Education saying it was “wrong,” “invasive,” and that it felt like “we’ve got pirates on our supertanker climbing over the decks.” Hmm. … I guess Nakamura has been reading the op-ed pages of the San Diego Union-Tribune lately. U-T editorial cartoonist Steve Breen published a political cartoon on the U-T’s op-ed page Dec. 3, 2008 depicting the teachers union as a group of hijackers poised to invade a tanker named the ‘Sacramento.’ It is quite an offensive image. No, unions and the agreements they arrive at with prospective employers are not a means of illegal coercion. Unions are about creating fair workplace conditions. One element in creating fair workplace conditions is worker wages. A more appropriate metaphor helping the public to understand the project labor agreement that the San Diego Unified Board of Education voted to pursue would be to see it as a turn in the tide. After more than 30 years of labor’s eroding workplace conditions, San Diego might be joining the rest of the nation in its realization that labor needs to be fairly treated and justly compensated.

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