Thursday, August 23, 2012

A strike now seems very likely

Photo by Jesse Sharkey
A teachers strike is looking more and more unavoidable. The Mayor has pushed the union to the wall by stonewalling serious negotiations, sticking to his 2% pay-raise offer, and seeing if he can force the union to fold at the last minute. By playing chicken with the union he is not only gambling with the lives of the city's children and families, but with Obama's election chances as well.

From the looks of things, fold doesn't appear to be part of CTU Pres. Karen Lewis' dictionary. At yesterday's meeting the union's House of Delegates gave Lewis the power to serve the CPS board with 10-day notification of a strike as required by state law. Hundreds of teachers are already manning informational picket lines despite board's campaign of intimidation and spying/reporting on teacher union activists.

Emanuel, who has resorted to using paid, anti-union protesters at board meetings has now enlisted his machine cronies at UNO in a divisive and cynical scab campaign directed at parents, using radio ads to boast that their charter school teachers will still be on the job while their public school brothers and sisters are walking picket lines. The mayor has also told his hand-picked board to come up with $25 million to be used to try and break the strike. The easily found the money, proving once again that the school district's financial picture was not nearly as dire as the mayor and the board members have said it was.

Lewis at news conference outside CPS headquarters | John H. White~Sun-Times
Ramifications of a teachers strike go far beyond Chicago since those leading the anti-union charge as well as the assault on teacher pensions and healthcare benefits are not wild-eyed Tea Party Republican radical governors, but rather, as my brother eloquently points out,  traditional machine Democrats, Emanuel, Quinn and Madigan. While the Republicans' convention in Tampa is threatened by Hurricane Isaac, the Democrats' convention in Charlotte could very well take place against the backdrop of raging union battles in the streets of Democrat-run Chicago.

CBS reports that  a union spokeswoman hinted to reporters that if an agreement isn't reached, teachers might take their signs all the way to North Carolina to the Democratic National Convention, where Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is scheduled to speak.
Behind the tough talk is a tense showdown between Emanuel and the teachers, with possible ramifications beyond Chicago at a time when most unions have seen their power slip dramatically. The mayor angered the teachers with his demands for a longer school day and other concessions, and the result appears to be an energized union that authorized a strike by a wide margin.
From my vantage point, it's clear that the union has enough support from its teachers as well as from many parents and community activists who are already organizing in support of the teachers and options for their own children in the event of a strike, to sustain a long strike if necessary. It's doubtful, in my mind, that Emanuel has that same kind of support from the national party leadership.

Solidarity activities are being organized by unions and support groups around the country. Here's a sight organized by a Network of  Teacher Activist Groups, where you can make a pledge of support for CTU teachers.


  1. I love the idea of taking it to North Carolina!

  2. Stay strong, Chicago teachers! We're rooting for you!
    -- Lisa Rodvien, Annapolis, MD

  3. This is about so much more than money. It is about the Schools Chicago's Students deserve and about the future of PUBLIC education. Wisconsin teachers stand with CTU!

  4. I'd be happy to have a 0% raise in this recession if the school board would stand behind its teachers against unrealistic expectations that every child will be above average on standardized tests and that students surrounded by violence and poverty just need the right curriculum and behavior management strategy to succeed.


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