Hey, do you remember back in the beginning of February when Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told the Chicago Teachers Union that the teachers had to return to class in one week or she would “take action?” The union responded by threatening to go on strike. I’m still not sure how that was an effective strategy since they were already basically on strike anyway, but it bought them some additional time. The union insisted that all the teachers would need to be vaccinated before in-person classroom instruction could resume.
The situation is still bogged down, though Illinois did agree to prioritize vaccinations for teachers. So what’s the holdup? They still don’t know how close they are to vaccinating all of the teachers. Maybe one reason for that is that the union sent out an email to the teachers suggesting they don’t tell the city or the school district whether or not they had gotten the vaccine. This all started at the beginning of March when it looked like a deal had been struck. (Daily Caller)
A few weeks later, the union agreed to a reopening plan proposed by the Chicago Public Schools. Now, however, the union appears to have discouraged its members from sharing vaccination status with the local public school system — this despite the public schools’ attempts to make vaccination easier for teachers and staff by tracking vaccinations, according to CBS Chicago. The union members reportedly received an email recommending the teachers “wait to respond to the vaccination survey.”
“I don’t have a problem with people answering this kind of survey… I do have a problem with [the public schools] not bargaining it with us,” union president Jesse Sharkey told CBS Chicago, commenting on the letter.
The Chicago school system vaccination page shows a total of 16,500 staff and teachers have been offered or scheduled appointments, but only over 4,200 employees reported receiving the vaccine, according to the report.
The survey system was put in place in order to meet the demands of the union. Once a sufficient number of the now prioritized teachers had been vaccinated, they could start returning to the classrooms. But barely a quarter of the teachers participated in the survey, indicating that they’d gotten the vaccine.
The president of the teacher’s union, Jesse Sharkey, doesn’t even seem to be denying what he’s done or his reasons. He sent out the instructions to “wait” before responding to the survey and clearly, his army followed its orders. He has “a problem” with the school’s “not bargaining” with him. But bargaining over what? They got what they supposedly wanted. Teachers were able to get vaccinated, which was allegedly the sticking point in the negotiations. And now he wants to hide the number of vaccinated teachers so they don’t have to return to class yet.
This was finally the last straw for the Mayor, or so it seems. Lori Lightfoot is a Democrat and should ostensibly be on the same “team” as the teacher’s union, but she came out and flatly accused Sharkey of playing politics with the pandemic to keep the schools closed.
“When you have unions that have other aspirations beyond being a union, and maybe being something akin to a political party, then there’s always going to be conflict,” she said.
At this point, you have to wonder what’s stopping Chicago from simply beginning to fire teachers that won’t go back to work and just putting out the help wanted sign to hire new ones. It’s not as if they have a functional school system at the moment anyway. Unfortunately, Mr. Sharkey apparently is a big believer in the Chicago Way. At this point, he’s acting a lot more like Al Capone than any negotiator for labor activists.