It's Not Political, It's Just Life

Political discourse without the spin.

Chicago Teachers’ Strike: You Can’t Enjoin the 1st Amendment

CTU Strike: 'Public $ for Public Schools' Sign

CTU Strike: ‘Public $ for Public Schools’ Sign (Photo credit: firedoglakedotcom)

On Sunday, the CTU announced that they would not end the strike in time for Monday morning school. Union delegates will meet again on Tuesday. The primary reasons given by Ms. Karen Lewis in her press conference were because the rank & file needed time to read over the contract before a vote, tonight is the start of a Jewish holiday, which she respects, and that once the rank & file did their review, they needed time to vote. Those are rational, thoughtful statements.

However, shortly afterwards, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, of Jewish decent, said he’d get a court order to end the strike. Why, Mayor? She’s giving you time as well. It is only right for them to have time to go over it, rather than rush through it without feedback from the membership.

Ms. Lewis made a statement today that she is the membership’s representative, not leading them but doing their will. That was a profound statement, on which the media is not focusing. Ms. Lewis and her team have worked their posteriors off this week. There is a larger matter at hand, and it’s hard to see when children have spent the summer being shot in the streets. That’s not the CTU’s fault. That has to do with home training, or the lack thereof.

However, the larger matter is the constant crushing of unions all over the country, and of public employee unions in particular. That’s what we should include in this matter, and that’s why the CTU can’t back down now, they’re too far in. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association are watching closely. This strike is a public employee union putting their foot down, the proverbial line in the sand, for their rights as employees who have a hard job and deserve to be paid for it, without fear of being dumped any minute because of bureaucratic games with the budget.

At Saturday’s rally, every speaker was eloquent. If someone didn’t know why they are striking, it would be apparent if you really listened to the various speeches. There was a sea of humanity, representing every segment of the city and many out-of-town supporters. The ones who nailed it were Ms. Lewis herself and the ex-rapper that ran for alderman.

She said that they should turn off the air conditioners in Rahm’s office, in the corporate offices of the charter school corporations, and in the CPS HQ! Then, she said let them be sick w/o health care, have a toothache w/o the ability to get to a dentist, and be scared to go outside of their house, and come to school and be tested. The ex-rapper said that he was thankful that there were male teachers when he was in school, who pointed him in the right direction. Many people of a certain age have fond memories of our neighborhood schools, in spite of no air conditioning.

There are three main issues to dissect before a vote – teacher evaluations, job security, and salaries & benefits. The Pantagraph, a downstate newspaper, has a short, clear article on it here. This strike is being watched around the world, and is more important to the future of inner-city school children that we can imagine. Don’t leave them hanging, because for the CTU to return to work without a solution will just trigger a repeat of these events when this contract expires. Even if the next mayor doesn’t renege on a previously negotiated salary, it still won’t be pretty.

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