Teachers Union Strike in Chicago

You’d have to be Rip Van Winkle not to have heard of the strike — currently entering its second week — by some 26,000 Chicago Public Schools teachers.

The walkout was supposed to have been resolved over the weekend, and 350,000 kids were supposed to be back in class today. That didn’t happen.

So once again, parents are scrambling to find child care, juggling their own work schedules, bringing kids to work, working from home, etc. — all because these teachers who say they want what’s best for the kids really want what’s best for themselves.

Now, I don’t live in Chicago. I don’t have a dog in this fight. I’ve never been a teacher, nor a union member. I’ve never had teachers in my area go on strike, either when I was a kid or when My Favorite Domer was in public school.

So while I’d like to be fair to both sides, I’m finding my patience stretched to the snapping point.

On what planet does the CPS Teachers Union exist?

Statistics show Chicago teachers currently average $76,000 a year, for nine months of work. By contrast, the average Chicagoan makes $40,000 a year, for a full year. Yet teachers want a 16 percent pay raise over four years.

You’ve gotta be kidding. In this economy?? When the parents of the kids they teach are cutting way back and scrimping on everything but necessities?

I don’t deny teachers have a tough job, especially in Chicago. And I’d never be one to withhold wages from anyone who does his/her job.

But it’s one thing to get paid a fair wage and another to demand more, more, MORE!

Chicago doesn’t have a money tree in its back yard. And Illinois, frankly, is flat broke. So where do CPS Teachers Union members expect this kind of money to come from?

Of course there are other sticking points, too many to go into here. But there’s a bottom line, too — teachers say they want to go back to work.

Well, if that’s the case, they need to concede on some points. Stop acting like greedy brats. Be grateful they have good jobs. Accept that no job is perfect, no working conditions are ideal.

That’s what it means to negotiate. You give a little, you get a little.

Every school kid learns that in Kindergarten, assuming their teachers aren’t carrying a picket sign and they get to go to Kindergarten.

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18 thoughts on “Teachers Union Strike in Chicago

  1. There’s one more little detail. Here, courtesy of the US Dept. of Education, are the facts:

    Seventy-nine percent of the 8th graders in the Chicago Public Schools are not grade-level proficient in reading, according to the U.S. Department of Education, and 80 percent are not grade-level proficient in math.

    If those figures were reversed – if those teachers were taking children from Chicago’s neighborhoods and bringing 80% of them up to standard in reading and math, I’d at least listen to their arguments. As it is, I hope they go to court, and I hope the court rules against them.

    Yes, it’s unfair to the kids to be out of the classroom while this is hashed out. On the other hand, it’s even more unfair for kids to be in the classrooms and not learn the basics that will help them in life.

    The fact is that when I graduated high school in 1964, I was better educated than most college graduates are today. Those are the facts. It’s time to get rid of the participation trophies and sensitivity training and start educating.

    Harumph. ;)

    • You make EXCELLENT points! Obviously, I couldn’t address everything in one blog post, so I’m grateful when my readers point things like this out.
      I totally agree that educators “back in the day” did a much better job with a whole lot less! Too often today, schools are handing out A’s like candy, leading the kids to expect them, wheedle when they don’t get them, or even cheat. And then we complain when they can’t make simple change at a cash register!
      You’re right — it’s time to “start educating.”

  2. Well said! I agree. I have many family members who are teachers. What I find funny, no disturbing is the correct word, is that many of the teachers I know (family as well as friends) say with only a bit of jest that June, July and August are the reasons they love to teach.

    I love to teach. Therefore I do. No job. No union.

    • I always wanted to be a teacher. I’m convinced I’d have been a good one. BUT I know I never could have stood for mandatory union membership and participation. While it’s wonderful that teachers have three months paid free time, what’s not so wonderful is the “dumbing down” of our students that’s all-too-prevalent right now. Sadly, the reforms that have been made in the last, say 30 years, haven’t addressed the problem of our failure to educate our kids, make them competitive in today’s world, and make them employable, too. Simply throwing more money at a problem isn’t going to solve it!

  3. Ok. I’ll play since I live in Chicago, pay property taxes, did not vote for the current mayor, and have friends on the school board. First CTU leader Karen Lewis is an embarrassment. She is loved by the lower end of her teachers. She has her fame and she is going to hang on to it. Negotiations stopped the minute a possible strike was announced. The teachers were going to strike.
    Nobody disagrees that teachers should earn more but on the other hand teachers aren’t indentured servants. Teaching is a choice. I should not have to pay more in property taxes for a broke school system. Debbie is right to ask, “Where do we get it.” Il is broke.
    40 percent of Chicago public school students drop out. In great part it’s not the teachers fault many of these children come from environments that make it impossible to teach them. This needs to be taken into account when evaluating teachers. Ideas have been suggested, teachers are free to appeal their evaluations. This needs to be worked on.
    Principles being forced to hire from lay off pools is ridiculous if they can find a better fit outside the pool.
    The teachers are offered a 17% wage increase over 4 years, earn $71,000 (average), have great benefits and a healthy pension fund. Employees in the private sector drool. You know the ones who haven’t had a raise in years.
    Kids are running amuck, parents are in a bind, and the teachers party on (sorry, that is harsh). I don’t send my kid to a public school because they don’t even come close to working. It’s time (IMO) to start searching out new options for public schools that were originally based on the union factory model and come up with innovative ideas and a new model. In the mean time–I hope Chicago Mayor hangs tough and leaves teachers on the picket line so real change can take place—(harsh again, sorry).

    • Katybeth, I’m delighted to read your comments. I didn’t want to add fuel to the fire (seeing as how Illinois has always had this Downstate vs. Chicago feud going on), but I felt compelled to explore the subject a bit.
      During my reporter days, I covered union strikes. As with any controversial issue, both sides generally have valid points. Workers should be compensated and should have safe working conditions; employers should expect loyalty, reason, and dependability. Unfortunately, these things often become political, and some “leader” steps front and center, vocally espousing his/her own beliefs but attributing them to the masses. Things can get ugly real fast.
      There are problems in our American educational system that money won’t fix, that strikes won’t fix. I don’t know what the answer is, but it’s pretty obvious we need to find one — and fast!

  4. –I work for the school district…so I can observe both sides.

    Contrary to belief, teachers DO NOT teach just because they are off July & August…they teach because they LOVE KIDS. (well, most of them do )

    Xx Kissss

  5. I was a high school English teacher. I advocated in master’s program for merit pay. I’m not one for unions. I don’t like what’s going on in Chicago. I keep wondering why they’re not just let go and all of the teachers who are ready to go and want to teach and don’t have jobs aren’t hired. Like the air traffic controllers years ago. Disruptive at this point – yes. A lot to ask new teachers to come in and get going? yes. But the teachers in Chicago who’ve had the jobs obviously haven’t been doing the job anyway.

    Riled up? Oh yeah. And I’m far, far away from Chicago.

    • Barb, I appreciate your thoughts. I don’t like what’s going on in Chicago, either. I think this strike is just a hint of the bigger problem — seems to me like far too many of these teachers want job security and all the perks, without accepting the accountability that goes along with any job. What’s sad is that property taxes continue to rise, but the kids aren’t getting a good education. Regardless of how one views it, it’s sad for the kids, many of whom miss their friends and want to be back in the classroom.

  6. I have heard of this strike, but I haven’t followed the details. To me, the pay does seem high, but then again, cost of living is probably much higher there as well. I hope they can reach resolution soon because the kids are really the ones who lose in this situation.

    • I can only imagine how tough it must be for the working parents to find some place safe to put their kids while the adults aren’t playing nice in the sandbox! Not a very good job in modeling good behavior, is it?

  7. I don’t begrudge the teachers their fair share. All teachers work hard, and I won’t comment on what they’re asking for or whether it’s deserving. What bothers me is that they were given a new offer and they could’ve made a decision yesterday. But they said they needed more time. In an act of good faith, they could’ve gone back to the classroom while reviewing the new one. But they chose not to. That’s what bothers me.

    • You’re so right, Monica. They claimed they didn’t have time to study the new offer, but how much time did they need? In the meantime, the parents were told to have their kids ready for school on Monday morning, and that never happened. It’s just a sad situation all around.

  8. Pingback: Rants in our Pants! Tuesday is Rant Day!

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