This morning's front page headline in the Sun-Times print edition reads:
DO YOU HEAR US, RAHM?
Teachers Show Strength in Numbers, Mayor Cuts DNC Visit Short
In this rare case, the headlines told the real story. Yesterday's Labor Day Solidarity Rally in Daley Plaza was a powerful expression of the anger and frustration felt by thousands of Chicago teachers in reaction to the debasement and the disrespect shown them and their profession by Rahm Emanuel's administration.
Tactically, it was a risk to hold a Labor Day rally in the Loop, where there was no audience of office workers to influence and the targeted decision makers were absent. But with a potential teachers strike approaching, the Chicago Teachers Union and its friends among public employee unions put on an impressive show of strength Monday, drawing thousands of red-shirted supporters to a Daley Plaza rally that turned into a protest march around City Hall and outside the Clark Street headquarters of the Chicago Public Schools.An estimated 18,000 teachers and supporters listened to militant solidarity speeches by leaders of supporting unions and community organizations and a fiery speech by CTU prez Karen Lewis, who drew thunderous applause when she called the mayor, "a liar and a bully." Then the crowd spontaneously poured out onto Washington Blvd. and then marched down Clark St. to CPS headquarters chanting, What do we want? A Fair Contract!" and Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Rahm Emanuel's got to go! [Video].
None of Rahm-paid counter-protesters were in sight. But he did drag out a gaggle of faithful like Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) in front of the media, to slam Lewis and the teachers. I hope residents will remember that come council elections.
Not exactly the thing that Obama's people need to be facing as the Democratic National Convention opens today with Rahm scheduled as a keynote speaker. The mayor's assault on Chicago's teachers, plus the DNC taking place in anti-union Charlotte, N.C. brings the party as close to war with it's most reliable base, organized labor, as it's ever been. A Chicago teachers strike in the weeks leading up to election day could pose a real threat to Obama's election chances. And the last thing the Dems need right now is Rahm being confronted by the national media asking him questions about his hostility to organized labor and the mounting child murder rate in the city since he took office. So Rahm will make his remarks brief and then high-tail it back to Chicago to do damage control.