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.