The union movement’s ground zero is California

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United Teachers Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District, at loggerheads over a contract for a year and a half, are now in 11th-hour state-run mediation talks. The teachers’ union deems insulting the latest offer by Superintendent Austin Beutner, so it seems increasingly likely that 33,000 L.A. educators may make good on their threat to strike.

Cue the critics: A teacher’s strike will just hurt the kids. See? Unions are too radical and corrupt and do more harm than good.

Balderdash. Unions aren’t perfect, but the monotonous smear campaign against them shows how out-of-touch haters are. Especially in this era of Trump, unions offer working class America a competing vision of prosperity and protection. Unlike the California quitters who leave the state complaining that the dream is over for the middle class, labor argues that solutions start with good jobs and management that takes care of more than quarterly earnings.

And in recent years, unions across the state, across different industries, have made their case to the public.

In Kingsburg, more than 500 Sun-Maid workers went on strike for two weeks in September over reduced healthcare coverage; the raisin giant eventually offered a better contract. At Keck Medical Center of USC, the National Union of Healthcare Workers picketed this month to argue that workers at USC-run health clinics should receive the same fully paid health insurance enjoyed by their colleagues at USC hospitals.

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