26,000 Chicago Teachers Strike

Twenty-six thousand teachers in the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike Monday morning. The teachers began walking a picket line as Chicago mayor Rahm “The Godfather” Emanuel blasted the strike announcement as a “strike of choice.”

The Atlantic Wire reports,

Talks broke down between the Chicago Teachers Union and the public school board on Sunday night, heralding in the city’s first strike in 25 years. There’s nothing sudden about the decision. The two groups have been arguing over benefits and job security for months, and the Chicago Teacher’s Union is making good on a promise they made at the end of August to strike if the city wouldn’t meet their demands. “We’re tired of being bullied, belittled and betrayed,” Karen Lewis, head of the Teacher’s Union said at the time. “We have done everything asked of us, yet we continue to be vilified and treated with disrespect.”

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The numbers alone indicate that this is not a small labor dispute. On Monday, 26,000 teachers won’t show up at school meaning that 402,000 students across the city won’t have anything to do. As parents worry about what they’ll do with their kids, officials say that they’ve made arrangements to watch the students. They’ll also have to be fed, as 80 percent of Chicago’s students qualify for the free lunch program.

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The teachers in Chicago already make an incredible salary.
CBS Chicago reports,

Salary figures provided by the Chicago Public Schools show teachers here have the highest average salary of any city in the nation. But, according to the Chicago Teachers Union’s calculations, Chicago teachers would rank second behind New York City.

During a vote taken last week, 90 percent of the city’s public school teachers voted to authorize a walkout, if no contract compromise is reached.

A top sticking point? Pay increases to compensate teachers for working a longer school day. But just how do teachers’ salaries here compare to teachers’ salaries across the country?

A Chicago Public Schools spokesperson said average pay for teachers, without benefits, is $76,000.

The union turned down an amazing offer in favor of striking. The Chicago Sun Times reports,

The school board’s last offer included a 3 percent raise the first year and 2 percent raises the next three years — a slight increase from an earlier offer of two percent raises in each of the next four years.

The package, which would cost $400 million, keeps increases for experience and credentials with some modifications.

Vitale said the contract amounted to a 16 percent raise over four years for the average teacher when factoring other increases. And the raises could not be rescinded for lack of funds — which is what happened this past school year, angering teachers and helping to set the stage for Monday’s strike.

Instead the union turned down the terms and have begun to strike. Even those who want to go in an teach won’t be paid during the strike. Parents were trying to find alternatives for their children on Monday morning.

The pay these teachers get, while 79% of Chicago 8th graders are “not proficient in reading,” is ridiculous. Perhaps, the city of Chicago would do well to simply begin firing some of these teachers and start bringing in new teachers and do away with the unions. Wait. That would make sense so we should never expect such a thing from government. Leave those teachers to fend for themselves. They made their beds. Now let them lie in them.

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