The Chicago teachers union is above the law

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Out in Chicago, the school board for the city’s public schools has ordered that the schools be reopened for in-person learning. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has ordered the schools to reopen and threatened to curtail the wages of teachers who don’t show up. Parents have been flooding the lines at news stations and newspapers complaining about the lack of services. And yet, as of this morning, nearly all of the schools in Chicago are still closed. The local media is describing this as a “standoff” between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union.

As of last night, when it became obvious that the vast majority of the teachers would continue to refuse to show up for work today, the Mayor once again stamped her feet and made additional demands. She told the teachers union that it was time for them to “get real and get serious about getting back into in-person learning.” She reiterated that what the teachers were doing is an “illegal walkout.” So what is she going to do about it? Apparently nothing other than promise “further negotiations.” (Insider)

The standoff between Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Teachers Union continued on Sunday, foreshadowing another uncertain school week for the city’s more than 340,000 public school students.

Lightfoot appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning and called for teachers to return to the classroom for in-person instruction despite the rise in COVID-19 cases.

“We know that the safest place for kids to be is in-person learning in schools,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve got to get the teachers union to get real and get serious about getting back into in-person learning.”

What I would like to know is how there are still “negotiations” going on at this point? The teachers are supposedly demanding additional free face masks and other PPE. Their last proposal was to have remote learning for this week, returning to in-person instruction next Monday, but only if there was a guarantee that the system would “automatically” revert to remote learning if the city’s seven-day positivity average spiked beyond the current point again in the future.

The mayor herself has said that this work stoppage is illegal. The teachers and administrators at Chicago’s public schools are employees of the CPS administrators and their employment is no more assured than any other misbehaving worker at any business in the country. If the union had declared a strike, that would be one thing. But they haven’t. They simply sent out a midnight email to their members saying that they shouldn’t show up and most of them complied.

The short-term answer should be to not only cut their pay but start firing teachers immediately. I realize that some of you will argue that the schools can’t function if they lost that many teachers. So what? The schools aren’t functioning now. They’re closed. What’s the difference at this point?

In the longer term, the Chicago Teachers Union needs to be destroyed. They don’t need to have fines imposed on them or new rules voted on. They need to be permanently disbanded. Then start the process of hiring non-union teachers who will actually do their jobs. These teachers’ unions have grown far too powerful and are way too comfortable holding a figurative gun to the heads of all of the students and their families at the drop of a hat. No private group should have this much power and the ability to thumb their nose at the laws.

I realize that if the city could actually do that they would pretty much lose this entire school semester. But the semester is pretty much shot anyway at this point. It’s time to rip the bandaid off and restart the system from scratch. Teachers’ unions are now a malevolent presence in the country for more reasons than just the illegal work stoppage in Chicago. We should be rid of them all on a permanent basis.