Chicago teachers union rejects contract offer, will likely go on strike

Whenever you’re feeling down in the dumps, distressed at the turn of events in the world or simply empty inside, just remember one thing: you could always live in Chicago, so things could be worse. (With apologies, if you happen to actually live in Chicago. I got nothing for ya.) Out in the Windy City there’s been a cavalcade of news surrounding the administration of Rahm Emanuel, his police department, his budget, his crime rate and all manner of disasters. But this story has to do with the teachers union. After months of tense negotiations with the city, talks over their new contract have broken down and they may be going on strike. (Yahoo News)

A bargaining team for the Chicago teachers’ union on Monday unanimously rejected a contract offer from the financially troubled city, raising the possibility of a strike and possibly causing a new embarrassment for embattled Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The rejection means the union and Chicago Board of Education will enter a final stage of talks to avert a possible strike, which could come as early as May 23.

Chicago Public Schools officials had been hoping to relay positive developments on its teachers’ contract to potential buyers of its $875 million of bonds expected to sell this week. On Friday, the district was hit with another downgrade of its already-junk rating.

Speaking of bad news, that last sentence is worth revisiting if you missed it on the first read. The Public Schools group got hit with yet another downgrade of their already-junk rating. It’s almost as if investors don’t want to flush their money into bonds to prop up a system with no apparent method of repaying them. Imagine the insolence.

These talks actually looked like they were going somewhere last year. With the schools falling apart financially, city negotiators made it sound as if the unions had come to their senses and realized that they were going to have to carry some of the cost of their pensions and other highly generous benefits. They still wanted a raise, but they sounded like they were at least willing to consider a smaller one. And all of that came after they nearly went to mediation in November.

The Chicago Teachers Union wants to launch a final stage of contract negotiations later this month, on the same day its members plan to take to downtown streets in a show of force amid deadlocked talks.

Union President Karen Lewis did not, however, demand to have a three-person panel broker a potential agreement, a union attorney said Tuesday, which would have triggered a “fact-finding” process necessary before teachers can walk off the job.

Union leaders have said they will soon make that demand, though, and a recent letter from Lewis to Chicago Board of Education negotiators signals how the CTU wants to advance a negotiating process laid out by state law.

Well, that didn’t work. And now, assuming nothing productive comes of 11th hour talks, they will need to go back to their members and ask them vote on going on strike again. I say “again” because we just went through this in 2012 but they’re back to the table for more. It’s not like the city didn’t already have enough problems on their hands… do they really need all the kids shut out and roaming the streets instead of being in class? I wonder if Rahm couldn’t just come up with some sort of online education plan with a cheap entry cost and just shut the schools down? If nothing else it would probably get the teachers back to the negotiations a bit quicker.


Jazz Shaw Jul 03, 2022 10:01 AM ET