mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Chicago Teachers Threaten Strike

CBS News reports (h/t Heritage) that Chicago’s teacher’s union has voted to authorize a strike with a decisive 90 percent of the vote. If the union follows through with the authorization, it would mark the union’s first strike in a quarter century.

At the root of the dispute is a disagreement over Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plans to increase the school day from 5 hours and 45 minutes to 7 hours without a significant pay increase. The union argues that teachers should receive a cumulative 30 percent pay raise for the extra time added to their workday, with a 24 percent pay raise in the first year. Emanuel has countered that Chicago’s school day is already the shortest of the nation’s 50 largest districts, and the change would simply bring their workday to the national average. The terms of debate boil down to this:

The district has proposed a five-year deal that guarantees teachers a 2 percent pay raise in the first year and lengthens by 10 percent the amount of time teachers must spend at school, from 7 hours to 7 hours and 40 minutes. The union wants a two-year deal that reduces class size and calls for teachers to receive a 24 percent pay raise in the first year and a 5 percent pay raise in the second year.

Via Meadia understands the idea of starting from an aggressive bargaining position, but…a 30 percent pay raise? That would be a hard sell in the best of times, and these are not the best of times for public employees, as a casual glance at a newspaper or two over the past few weeks would have revealed.

The Chicago teacher’s union is swimming against a strong current that has led to significant changes in nearby Wisconsin, as well as across the country in San Diego and San Jose. If Chicago teachers hope to succeed in a strike, they’ll need support from the citizens of Chicago. The recent anti-blue votes are a warning that they shouldn’t take the public’s support for granted.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Bruno Behrend

    Dear Rahm Emanuel,

    I’m not particularly a big fan of yours. That said, I have some advice that will assist you in becoming President someday, should that be one of your goals in life.

    Break the Union. Crush it. Drive Charters, Parent Triggers, and even vouchers, right through their heart.

    You will turn around your deeply blue and failing party, and you will have the credibility to run as a reform Democrat.

    Just do it. Break the Union.

  • Kenny

    But it’s for the children.

  • alex scipio

    As long as they strike prior to November 6, I’m good with it. Give the rest of the nation another look at the unions that just lost to Americans in WI. American voters can help ensure government-sector unions lose in CHI, and that their quislings in Congress and the Oval Office are sent packing.

  • Brett

    When was their last pay raise? If it was something like 4 or 5 years ago, then I can understand the 30% increase. Even aside from a one-sixth increase in work-time (which effectively means another class and all the outside time required for that), there’s inflation to consider.

    If they’ve been getting hefty pay raises up to this year, then they’re just being unreasonable.

  • Eurydice

    @Brett #4 – I think they’ve been getting annual raises of 4% ever since 2003, which is more than the CPI for the period.

  • Tom

    Compare Chicago to what is happening in Douglas County, Colorado, where the School Board has very, very effectively negotiated a wide range of reforms with the teachers union.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service