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CTU Strike

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The Chicago Teachers Union, which in 2012 had one of the biggest and most important strikes of the last decade, is back on the picket line today for a 1-day strike. Like the 2012 strike, this is about more than just a contract. This is a political strike with broad if somewhat vague demands about the treatment of teachers and students, the racial injustice of Chicago, and of course the CTU’s archenemies, Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Rauner. The legality of this strike is questionable, although I’d be surprised to see Emanuel do too much with that. However, the CTU has deep roots in the Chicago community and is receiving a lot of community and labor support. Micah Uetricht explains what is going on.

The union is walking a fine line between the narrow issues they are legally permitted to strike over and those “bigger issues.”

“This [strike] is a call for revenue for funding the schools and social services in this state appropriately,” CTU President Karen Lewis recently told Chicago Tonight, shortly after explaining they were striking over the “steps and lanes.”

The union says that school closings and round after round of budget cuts and teacher layoffs have meant that many schools aren’t able to accomplish their most basic tasks.

“We’re not able to function with this low level of funding,” says Sarah Chambers, a special education teacher at Saucedo Academy. “And the board says they’re going to make more cuts.”

The strike comes amid a longstanding budget battle between Illinois’s Democratic-controlled State House and Senate, and Gov. Rauner. A former private equity mogul and near-billionaire, Rauner has refused to pass a budget for the state without new rules restricting public sector workers’ union rights and has enacted deep budget cuts that have caused numerous social service agencies in the state to close down or drastically reduce services. Illinois is currently the only state in America without a budget.

The union’s demands for increased revenue — a tax on millionaires, a tax on financial transactions like futures and options trades, and a progressive state income tax (Illinois is one of the few states that has a flat income tax) — can’t be won in contract negotiations. Some would require state constitutional changes. That makes a union victory hard to define.

“Victory will be showing a united force — not just teachers and parents and students, but actually creating a movement with other workers from around the city and the state,” Chambers says.

Still, the fact that an American union is going on strike alongside other unions and community groups with broad political demands is almost unheard of.

“[Such strikes] happen pretty much everywhere but the US,” says Professor Bruno. “They’re very common in France, they’re common in Germany and Central and South America. It’s only in the US, because of the historical evolution of labor law, that you can only strike legally under the narrowest of conditions. And a political strike over larger policy issues is clearly prohibited.”

That makes today’s strike “extraordinary.”

The action “hearkens back to the ’30s and ’40s, when organized labor was using the strike to make larger economic and political points and trying to pursue broader economic and social goals,” Bruno says. “We don’t have much precedent for it.”

See also Uetricht’s interview with CTU activist Sarah Chambers.

One of the biggest tragedies of modern politics is Karen Lewis coming down with cancer before taking on Rahm Emanuel. She would have crushed him.

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  • Phil Perspective

    One of the biggest tragedies of modern politics is Karen Lewis coming down with cancer before taking on Rahm Emanuel. She would have crushed him.

    Thankfully, she is someone willing to stand up to that tool. If you want to know why people hate the present Democratic Party, Rahmbo is example number 1!

    • ThrottleJockey

      Only in an alternate reality was Karen going to beat Rahm. No one thinks she’d put either the interests of the city, or even its kids, first. As this strike proves.

      • I am SHOCKED to see you support a horrible asshole like Rahm over a good person like Karen Lewis.

        • ThrottleJockey

          If she’s so good let her preside over the teacher’s union in your town, and vaya con dios.

          • Quite the response.

            God forbid Chicago teachers actually stand up for quality education, decent working conditions, and social justice for the students they teach.

            Nope, Rahm’s approach is clearly superior.

            • ThrottleJockey

              Karen does a great job representing the interests of the CTU membership. I’m also the first to agree that Rauner is a douche whose war on unions and the poor is reprehensible…But I certainly don’t think a 1 day strike by the CTU is the correct response, nor do I think she represents the interests of the city or our students.

              • Hogan

                She does the job she’s elected to do. Therefore she won’t do this other job if she’s elected to do it.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Just like running Bain Capital is a little bit different than running the USA, running the CTU is a little bit different than running Chicago.

                • Hogan

                  As is running the White House staff. So what?

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Lewis is more concerned about her members than our students. She evinces no concern for the broader community.

                • This is laughably incorrect.

                  Have you thought about working for Michelle Rhee?

                • ThrottleJockey

                  OK, so what your cites? What tangible things has Lewis done to improve the community? She’s worked hard to improve things for her membership, but beyond that anything?

                • DrS

                  Fighting to keep schools open sounds like helping the community to me, but don’t let that get in the way of your hate-on.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Cops want to keep precinct houses open and teachers want to keep schools open.

                  Because that’s good for jobs. Tell me something new.

                  Whether or not that’s good for the community, depends on whether or not the community needs those schools/precincts, and whether or not its the best use of the budget. Chicago is losing school age kids, and Rahm was right to close schools.

                  Chicago lost a lot of kids in that time. The city’s population decreased about seven percent from 2000-2010. Its 5- to 14-year-old population decreased about 22 percent, or over 94,000. The biggest losses of any age and gender groups were five- to nine-year-old boys (26 percent) and girls (25 percent

                • She’s worked hard to improve things for her membership, but beyond that anything?

                  Teachers’ working conditions are students learning conditions.

                  This Kool Aid you’ve swallowed about their interests being different is moronic.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Dude they’re not even striking over there working conditions today. Sure there is substantial overlap between teachers working conditions and students learning conditions which is why I typically support improvements to both, but there isn’t always a one-to-one correlation. Improving the Teachers Lounge, as a for instance, is not the same as improving student learning conditions.

                  The thing I recognize is that teacher unions represent the interests of its membership and not of communities in the same way that police unions represent the interests of cops and not their communities. To do otherwise would be too ignore there fiduciary responsibilities.

      • JL

        66% of parents of CPS students supported the 2012 strike (compared to 55% of Chicago voters overall, still a majority). A strike which took place while Lewis was presiding over the union.

        Also, as of two months ago, 60% of voters supported the CTU over Rahm in their dispute, including 73% of parents of CPS students.

        Your “No one” in “No one thinks…” may be accurate for you and your circles, but it does not appear to be accurate for the general Chicago public.

        • ThrottleJockey

          Ummm, JL, I supported the 2012 strike and I sided with them over Rahm in that dispute because I thought it was unfair to ask them for extra work without extra compensation. But its not like I think she’s some selfless social do-gooder who’d put the interests of kids and the city first.

          Quite the opposite, Karen Lewis does what she’s elected to do: Represent the best interests of her membership. Which–aside from today’s strike–she does zealously.

          • JL

            There are very few selfless do-gooders out there. And that’s fine. But what makes her somehow more beholden to interests other than The Pure Unsullied Good of the City and Its Kids than Rahm? And people, particularly CPS parents, seem to trust her more than Rahm when it comes to policy around the education of kids, given the numbers from two months ago.

            • N__B

              But what makes her somehow more beholden to interests other than The Pure Unsullied Good of the City and Its Kids than Rahm?

              Apparently the answer is that she doesn’t support The Pure Unsullied Charter Schools and the selfless do-gooders who run them for a profit.

            • ThrottleJockey

              I’m not saying that Rahm is some St Do-Gooder. Rahm is beholden to his career ambitions, As his handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting demonstrates.

              I’m simply pointing out that we shouldn’t elevate Karen Lewis to some pedestal simply because she leads the teachers union. As I recall Los Angeles mayor Antonio villaraigosa also led a union before becoming mayor and pissing off labor activists. This is to say that just because someone leads an organization we might like doesn’t mean they make a good community-wide leader.

    • FMguru

      People hate the Democratic Party so much that it’s currently projected to win the Presidency this year with 347 electoral votes (versus 191 for the Republican). The hate Rahm and the Democrats so much that his former boss is currently enjoys a 53% (and rising!) approval rate.

      Keep fucking that chicken, Phil.

      • Phil Perspective

        That doesn’t prove what you think it does, chucklehead!

  • JL

    Chicago activism is really impressive across a variety of different issues, as far as I can tell (from anti-racist and anti-police-brutality work to teachers’ unions and youth organizing to LGBTQ issues to movement lawyering and a really first-rate street medic collective). Maybe because there’s so much to fight there.

  • JL

    Off-topic: Yesterday my remaining charge was dropped and my case is finally over!

    I find the timing of the dropping very curious (it was both shortly after WGBH contacted them for comment about the story they were writing on the case, and shortly before the hearing where we were going to try to get a judge to order them to outline their evidence and theory of law on the conspiracy charge) but am very glad that it’s done with.

    • ThrottleJockey

      Congrats, JL, glad to hear that! Gotta be a big relief.

    • Linnaeus

      Great news!

    • Lasker

      Glad to hear it!

    • Rob in CT

      Glad to hear it!

    • Hogan

      Boo ya.

    • sonamib

      Yes, this is great!

    • Origami Isopod

      Congrats!

    • Marek

      Wonderful! I’m glad Stern and the Lawyers Guild were able to help out. Good people.

    • Hurray! Congrats!

  • ThrottleJockey

    A former private equity mogul and near-billionaire, Rauner has refused to pass a budget for the state without new rules restricting public sector workers’ union rights and has enacted deep budget cuts that have caused numerous social service agencies in the state to close down or drastically reduce services.

    And this makes sense because if there’s anything that will increase the likelihood of additional restrictions on public unions its a strike by the CTU over issues for which its already legally prohibited from striking.

    • Brett

      Even if the state legislature didn’t approve of the strike, there’s no way they’d go along with a program to drastically curb the public sector unions (it’s dominated by Democrats).

      • ThrottleJockey

        Do you think our legislators are reliable? How quickly did they fold when the 7th CCA said the state had to have Open Carry? Do you really trust Madigan? I can’t imagine anything that would hurt their popularity–and the broader public sector unions more–than this. Hell, Rauner’s speech is writing itself: “Today’s strike proves that the public must be protected from public unions!”

        • Matty

          I don’t know, given that they’ve been holding out for over a year against Rauner and Rauner’s pet Dem lost his primary, I think Brett’s got more right here. I don’t see them buckling and letting him go full-Walker.

          • brewmn

            He also lost a Republican primary where he funded a challenger to a sitting state senator who was insufficiently anti-union for his tastes. And the guy the Dems beat was a holdout who left them short of a veto-proof majority on several key bills.

            So I don’t know where TJ’s getting this notion that the Dems are going to cave any day now. At this point Madigan must feel, if anything, emboldened by the primary.

  • Denverite

    As a parent of a former CPS student, I feel bad for all of the parents who are having to scramble to find some sort of back-up care (or are having to miss work) so the CTU can make its point.

    • Do you also feel bad for commuters when BART workers go on strike?

      Or did you feel that commuters should support the strike because it will create better services for them in the long run?

      • Denverite

        Yeah, if it was an arguably illegal strike to make some sort of nebulous point that was exceedingly unlikely to result in any sort of real world change, then I’d feel bad for the commuters as well.

        • So what are workers supposed to do?

          And at what point do we stop supporting workers because it has a slightly deleterious effect on ourselves? Does solidarity end at the moment I am inconvenienced?

          • Denverite

            And at what point do we stop supporting workers because it has a slightly deleterious effect on ourselves? Does solidarity end at the moment I am inconvenienced?

            I agree that if the teachers in Providence had a strike if would have a “slightly deleterious” effect on *you,* comrade Farquaad.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiKuxfcSrEU

          • DrS

            Does solidarity end at the moment I am inconvenienced?

            Sure seems that way. Witness the temper tantrums thrown here about BART employees a few years ago.

            • Hogan

              I think there was only one. But it went on for several days.

            • Pseudonym

              Do you have a link?

              I mean, Bay Area tech employees are normally such strong supporters of working-class labor solidarity, it almost defies belief.

              • sparks

                Amanda of the South Bay has great solidarity with workers. Except BART workers. Their striking inconveniences her commute.

                • It was especially amusing in light of her also chiding others for shopping in a non-union grocery store chain.

                • zoinks

                  A model of unionism where you gain wage concessions at the expensive of other public spending depending on how disruptive your strikes are does not seem too viable in the long run. Instead it eventually gets you liberal Republican mayors like Bloomberg, or anti-public-employee-union democrats like Rahm and the guy in San Jose.

                  Subways conductors get paid more than street repavers with the same skills/seniority since the city can go without the services of one, but not the other, for a few months.

                  Teachers, trash collectors, BART workers, etc could leverage their disruptive strikes to benefit local government employees generally, but they choose not to.

            • Linnaeus

              Let’s not reopen that Pandora’s box.

          • MAJeff

            Does solidarity end at the moment I am inconvenienced?

            This raises a question: What is the point of action? Strikes are intended to disrupt things. That’s their purpose. That disruption will affect different audiences, from supporters to bystanders to opponents. It seems that connecting the “inconvenience” to the broader issues would more productive for putative supporters than complaining.

            Groups use the tools available to exert pressure. Disruptive strikes are such tools. What other tools, either in addition to or instead of, does the CTU have available to exert pressure on these issues?

            • Denverite

              Groups use the tools available to exert pressure. Disruptive strikes are such tools. What other tools, either in addition to or instead of, does the CTU have available to exert pressure on these issues?

              Oh fucking hell.

              What are “these issues”? What is the endgame here? What are they trying to get? I’m looking for a concrete ask, like “CPS is asking teachers to work 20% more hours, and the teachers are seeking a concomitant increase in compensation to reflect that” (as was the case in 2012).

              They’re not doing any of that. They’re trying to make a point. Which is a fucking shitty thing to do when making that point put people’s jobs at risk because they can’t find last minute childcare.

              • Hogan

                For some definitions of “last minute.”

              • cppb

                I don’t speak for CTU, obviously, but one point is to show concretely that parents and community members support them. It’s one thing to have polls saying that 60% or the public supports the teachers over the politicians; it’s another to put 15,000 people in the streets on a work day all saying “we’re organized, and we’re on their side, not yours.” Politicians can gamble that those people won’t be organized at the ballot box, or any hard-line negotiating won’t be remembered, but you can bet these kind of numbers make that gamble a bit less safe.

                Plus, even if it doesn’t translate into a better bargaining position, it’s a chance for activist groups, labor unions, and people who are typically not activists to reaffirm connections. That makes all of us stronger and is an unqualified good in my book.

            • zoinks

              Strikes are intended to disrupt things.

              There are really two effects going on with a strike. The first is workers acting collectively to increase their bargaining power, the second is “disrupting things” apart from changing the market dynamics in which their wages are set.

              The first is hard to object to, the latter just results in an unfair allocation of wages according to how disruptive your strike will be.

        • sonamib

          arguably illegal strike

          As an European used to “political” strikes, fuck the illegality of any strike. If it’s announced with sufficient notice, it should be legal. It might not be a good idea, but it should be legal.

          And here, there’s nothing “last minute” about the strike. According to Hogan’s link, there was at least one week to find alternative childcare.

          If you want to be mad at anyone, be mad at the governer who’s defunding the schools. That’s going to do a lot more harm to students than a one-day strike.

          • Denverite

            As an European used to “political” strikes, fuck the illegality of any strike. If it’s announced with sufficient notice, it should be legal. It might not be a good idea, but it should be legal.

            Yeah, no. Not for certain classes of public employees. I’ll listen to the argument that teachers aren’t in one of those classes, but sorry, if you think (say) cops and firefighters should be allowed to strike whenever they want, then that’s just silly.

            According to Hogan’s link, there was at least one week to find alternative childcare.

            Oh for fuck’s sake, do you understand how oblivious this sounds? Especially when probably hundreds of thousands of families are scrambling to find childcare during that ONE WHOLE WEEK’S time?

            I’m curious. Of the people on here who are insisting that teachers should be allowed to strike to make a solidarity point (and not, you know, to achieve anything tangible), how many of you have school age children?

            • zoinks

              The teacher’s strike in my district when I was a kid did not shut down the schools. Rather the admin staff and a few line-crossing teachers babysat the kids who showed up (about half) in large assemblies with movies, extended gym class, and guest speakers.

            • sonamib

              I’ll listen to the argument that teachers aren’t in one of those classes, but sorry, if you think (say) cops and firefighters should be allowed to strike whenever they want, then that’s just silly.

              Cops are allowed some limited actions like refusing to issue speeding tickets and the like. Firefighters are different, in that people might actually die if they don’t work. But when they’re angry, they block streets with their trucks and dowse government buildings in water, when they’re off-duty. They’re inconveniencing commuters, the horror!

              I don’t have kids but my parents were fine the few times teachers went on strike. It happened a lot less often than, say, school being cancelled due to snow. My parents supported the striking teachers.

              And when I compare working conditions in Europe to those in the USA, excuse me for concluding that labor over here is doing things that it can’t over there. The toxic anti-strike attitudes prevalent in America are no doubt part of that.

              • Ronan

                Unrelatedly , I saw this stinging critique of merkel and thought u might be interested

                http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n07/wolfgang-streeck/scenario-for-a-wonderful-tomorrow

                • sonamib

                  Don’t have time to read all of it, but I must say I’ve got a newfound respect for Merkel for the way she’s reacted to the refugee crisis. German policies on the matter are lightyears ahead of what’s happening in the rest of Europe, better even than Sweden’s. Merkel is displaying remarkable empathy that was totally lacking during the Greek crisis, and is even willing to take political heat over it (her party suffered heavy losses to the far-right in the 3 Länder elections held in March).

                • Ronan

                  That was my initial take as well, but the argument is pretty interesting as it ties her policies over the refugee crisis to her policies over Europe for the past few years ie her conflating europes interests with Germanys and making decisions in reaction to domestic german pressures outside of normal institutional processes that have poor long term consequences for the continent as a whole .
                  Streeck (the author) is generally good as well. His newest books particularly are worth checking out

            • N__B

              Of the people on here who are insisting that teachers should be allowed to strike to make a solidarity point (and not, you know, to achieve anything tangible), how many of you have school age children

              Me.

              Mini__B is in kindergarten, so he’s not spending time by himself if school is closed.

      • Lasker

        There’s no contradiction between feeling bad for commuters affected by a strike and supporting the strikers and their goals. (Though to be fair that doesn’t seem to be the case with Denverite) Something can cause real hardship and still be necessary.

        The CTU is unusually good at outreach to parents. and their last, much longer and more disruptive strike was supported by a majority of parents with children in public schools. While I have not followed the build up to this strike closely I’d be extremely surprised if that was not the case this time around as well.

        • Linnaeus

          I hope that the CTU has continued its outreach since 2012 and, like you, I would be surprised if they hadn’t.

        • Denverite

          (Though to be fair that doesn’t seem to be the case with Denverite)

          My feelings on this are complicated. I certainly think that teachers should be organized, and I further think that a strike is a legitimate tool that they can use to further their working conditions.

          I also think that because a teachers strike has a massive negative effect on hundreds of thousands of parents — and may even put a nontrivial number of their jobs at risk — that the teachers unions have a heightened responsibility to exercise their strike power as judiciously as possible, and they should only do so as an absolute last resort. I think that any argument that they are doing so here is laughable.

          So, yeah. I think today’s strike is shitty and irresponsible.

          • JL

            Is there evidence that parents don’t support today’s strike? They supported the 2012 strike (more strongly than Chicago voters as a whole), and as of two months ago, at which point the union had already been talking about a strike for a while, they overwhelmingly supported the union over Rahm (again, more strongly than Chicago voters as a whole).

            I would be awfully surprised, given their very strong history of outreach and of support from parents, and the fact that they’ve been talking about striking since last year, if they hadn’t talked this over with parents in the months leading up to this strike.

            • Denverite

              So what if 60% support the strike? That means 40% don’t. And also, it’s easy to support a strike when the district is doing backflips — against it’s own interest — to ameliorate the effects.

              From a CPS email:

              “Instead, on Friday we will be working with partners to operate more than 250 contingency sites throughout the city. These sites will be supported by trained staff, and will ensure students in attendance are safe, fed, and engaged and will be available for families who are unable to keep their student(s) at home on April 1.
              If you are unable to keep your child at home or secure alternate care, you can find more information about your options for Friday by using our Student Site Locator, which can be found at cps.edu/April1:

              *By entering your address, you’ll receive an elementary and high school option for your child, as well as a Chicago Park District and Chicago Public Library site within a similar area.

              *Of the options provided, simply select the site that works best for you. If you choose a CPS school site, please make sure to register your student(s) for the day using the form provided, and to choose the school that matches your child’s grade level.”

              • JL

                So what if 60% support the strike?

                Well, in 2012, it was actually 66% of CPS parents, with 31% opposing (presumably the others being unsure or having no opinion).

                What percentage have to support the strike for you to be okay with it? 70%? 90%? The number for this one could be even more than the last one, given that 73% of the parents were supporting the CTU over Rahm two months ago when the CTU was already seriously talking striking, and that this is a much shorter strike than the 2012 one.

                First you’re saying that this has such horrible effects on parents and you feel bad for them, now you’re saying that it’s easy for them to support the strike when the effects are so little.

                • Denverite

                  I don’t think the percentage of parents supporting the strike is particularly relevant to anything.

                  And I’m saying that the majority support is at least partly due to the fact that CPS is trying to arrange for programs that will make it less painful for the majority of parents. Majority. By no means all. There will be a ton of parents unable to transport their kids to the drop places, a ton that can’t arrange for late afternoon care (the normal after school programs aren’t being held), and a ton that don’t feel safe dropping their kids at a new place with new caregivers. Maybe not a majority, but tons.

                • Bill Murray

                  I don’t think the percentage of parents supporting the strike is particularly relevant to anything.

                  Then why did you use it as an argument/

                • Denverite

                  Then why did you use it as an argument/

                  I didn’t in the slightest.

                • This seems to be at least the slightest:

                  So what if 60% support the strike? That means 40% don’t. And also, it’s easy to support a strike when the district is doing backflips — against it’s own interest — to ameliorate the effects.

                  And actually rather more than.

          • Denverite

            [Missed the edit window]

            Further underscoring the notion that teachers’ strikes are different and should be used much more judiciously than, say, a widget plant strike, the costs of the latter are intended to be born by management. The widget maker doesn’t like widget plant strikes because they can’t make widgets while it’s going on.

            The “pain” of a teachers’ strike, conversely, is intended to be felt by the parents of students, with the idea that then they’ll exert political power on the district. That’s different. The union is trying first and foremost to screw over non-management.

            Again, I’m not saying teachers shouldn’t strike or have the power to do so. But they should do so far more judiciously, and with the keen awareness that they’re hurting their students and their students’ families first and foremost, and management second.

            • Pseudonym

              Spoken like someone whose health and livelihood doesn’t depend on a steady supply of widgets.

            • Hogan

              The widget maker doesn’t like widget plant strikes because they can’t make widgets while it’s going on.

              And the auto workers don’t like it because they can’t get the widgets they need to make autos.

              And the auto dealers don’t like it because they can’t get autos to sell.

              And the auto mechanics don’t like it because they can’t get spare widgets.

            • MAJeff

              Because teachers’ strikes are disruptive, to tactic of using strikes to disrupt should be avoided.

              Strikes are intended to be disruptive. It’s one of the few and dwindling powers organized labor have.

              • Denverite

                See above.

          • Nick056

            Worth noting that federal employees can’t strike at all. Public employee strikes are inherently tough situations where they are even allowed. Cutting essential services needs to be carefully balanced against the rights of labor.

            • Morse Code for J

              The difference is that a bargaining unit representative covered by Chapter 71 of Title 5 can seek mediation through FMCS and then go to binding arbitration if that does not resolve impasse. States do not have to offer their bargaining units the same courtesy.

              Of course, when states don’t allow for a union to feel that it’s had its side of the argument heard with a fairly selected arbitration panel after impasse (in Title 5, the contestants both select an arbitrator from a list provided by FMCS and the two arbitrators agree on a third), then strikes and other job actions happen.

      • Pseudonym

        Having children is a racist act that is hostile to unions and the spirit of Brown v. Board of Education. (-:

      • Brien Jackson

        “Do you also feel bad for commuters when BART workers go on strike?”

        Um….yes. This is some rather glib stuff here.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          it’s as if some workers are more equal than others and the ones who strike are the most equal

          • Brien Jackson

            I’m not even saying they shouldn’t strike or we shouldn’t support the strike, but public sector strikes have the hardest impact on poor people who depend on public services for a whole bunch of things even working class people can take for granted. The notion that we shouldn’t even feel bad at the impact this has on the very most vulnerable people in our economy is…odd.

    • As a parent of a former CPS student, I feel bad for all of the parents who are having to scramble to find some sort of back-up care (or are having to miss work) so the CTU can make its point.

      It’s sad that it’s come to this, but what else are they supposed to do?

      • The Temporary Name

        Yes. If they have other leverage, what is it?

        • Denverite

          *bangs head on table*

          Leverage to get what?

          • Why don’t you use the magic google machine?

            Assuming you actually care, and aren’t merely hoping to ask an unanswerable question for rhetorical effect.

            • Denverite

              No, that’s the point. The teachers are not trying to get anything. It’s a pure protest strike. They’re not using any “leverage” except in a “leverage to make people pay attention to our important message” sense.

              This isn’t the 2012 strike where the teachers were legitimately trying to improve their working conditions.

              • The teachers are not trying to get anything.

                Yes, they are. You just wrote below what they’re trying to get – better school funding a bunch of other political changes.

                Strike to protest low education funding generally?

                YOU JUST WROTE THAT!

                Nice use of “legitimately.” Care to explain why it’s legitimate to try to get something from the school committee, but not from the state legislature?

                • Denverite

                  Care to explain why it’s legitimate to try to get something from the school committee, but not from the state legislature?

                  OK, fair enough.

                  I guess I just think that the use of public sector strikes to cause pain for the broader public with the hope that that influences the political process is grossly irresponsible. It’s hostage taking — and unlike private union strikes, the hostages here are innocent. If the unions want to influence the political process, they can (and do!) have a lobbying mechanism by which to do that.

                • Every teachers strike, including the ones you’ve deemed legitimate, are aimed at influencing a political process.

                  In terms of the pain, this was a planned one-day event, unlike the “legitimate” strikes around contract negotiations which often drag on.

                  I don’t think we’re there yet.

                • Denverite

                  Every teachers strike, including the ones you’ve deemed legitimate, are aimed at influencing a political process.

                  Sure. But usually the political actor it is intended to influence is the one that the union actually bargains with. But the CTU doesn’t bargain with the Illinois legislature. It isn’t in privity with it.

                • I understand that. You’re right. What I don’t understand is, why would that distinction produce the moral difference you’re talking about?

              • brewmn

                You do k ow that Rauner is attempting to force the CPS into bankruptcy so he can override the union’s contract, right? Does that seem like it’s not “anything” to you?

      • Denverite

        See the rest of the thread.

        tl;dr version of the thread: I don’t think it is appropriate for public unions to strike to make a political statement separate and apart from any real-word demands they might have.

        Strike for higher wages? Sure. Strike for better hours? Go for it! Strike to protest low education funding generally? GFYS

        • I did see the rest of the thread, including you not being able to answer the question over and over.

          Seems to me that your entire case is that the demands they’re making would have too broad a benefit, impose too broad a cost, and require too broad an action. You’ve yet to explain why that makes the action a bad idea.

          • Denverite

            THEY DON’T HAVE ANY DEMANDS. Except in a “world peace,” pie-in-the-sky sense.

            You’ve yet to explain why that makes the action a bad idea.

            Holy shit. Read my very first comment, the one you replied to. It’s a bad idea because they’re fucking over a lot of parents who are used to having their kids at school from 8:30 to 3:30, with afterschool programs for a lot of them. THAT is the “bad idea” part of it.

            • The Temporary Name

              The political demands are obviously real-world demands.

            • “More funding” is not world peace. No matter how many ALL CAPS you use.

              Holy shit. Read my very first comment, the one you replied to. It’s a bad idea because they’re fucking over a lot of parents who are used to having their kids at school from 8:30 to 3:30, with afterschool programs for a lot of them. THAT is the “bad idea” part of it.

              You mean, exactly like the “legitimate” strikes do? Sorry, champ, you’re not even close to a point yet.

              You just keep putting on your Oh My God face because the goal of the action is to influence a broader group than the school board or city council, and expecting everyone else to do your work of explaining the problem.

              You keep writing this as if it’s an unquestionable truth. It’s not. It’s just an assumption you’ve clearly never questioned.

              • Denverite

                joe, I’m not Bijan. I’m not going to get in a personal insult-fest with you.

                I’ll just leave it where I left it above. You are correct. I just think — from a moral intuitionist perspective, I guess — that it is fundamentally illegitimate to use public sector strikes as a tool to influence the political process [ETA: this was said poorly. Obviously most public union strikes try to influence the political process. But like I said above, it’s usually the political process of the union’s management counterpart]. It is a strike for something that can be bargained for or conceded by management. It’s a protest.

                I’m not the only one that thinks this; there is a reason these sorts of strikes are illegal.

                • Bijan?

                  Bijan is the really sweet numbers guy. Why would you single out Bijan?

                • You are correct. I just think — from a moral intuitionist perspective, I guess — that it is fundamentally illegitimate to use public sector strikes as a tool to influence the political process

                  So what the hell are public sector unions supposed to do to influence the political process?

                  I have to say, you have really exposed yourself in this thread as the kind of liberal who is only fine with activism to the precise point where you might find yourself having to be figure out alternative arrangements. And that’s not a good place to be.

                • Pseudonym

                  Are there limits to the appropriate or legitimate use of strikes by public sector union workers?

                • Denverite

                  So what the hell are public sector unions supposed to do to influence the political process?

                  Use their well-paid lobbyists to do their fucking jobs?

                  I have to say, you have really exposed yourself in this thread as the kind of liberal who is only fine with activism to the precise point where you might find yourself having to be figure out alternative arrangements. And that’s not a good place to be.

                  I guess I can’t even. This time around, my kid(s) aren’t affected by the Chicago teacher’s strike. So it doesn’t inconvenience me.

                  But yeah. I’ve been in that boat. And it sucks. When it sucks because teachers were just asked to work 20% more hours and they’re offered 5% more comp, then OK. I get that. Fucking strike. You’re getting screwed.

                  But the CTU isn’t doing that. They think the Illinois legislature should generally allocate more money for schools and social services. Do they negotiate with the Illinois legislature? No, but hey, who gives a fuck? They’re going to make a political statement goddammit. There’s a 0.0001% chance it will make a difference!

                  And if they screw over a bunch of parents trying to keep their jobs, well, eggs and omelettes and all, right?

                • Marek

                  the kind of liberal who is only fine with activism to the precise point where you might find yourself having to be figure out alternative arrangements.

                  Phil Ochs had a line about this.

                • Brien Jackson

                  So what the hell are public sector unions supposed to do to influence the political process?

                  I have to say, you have really exposed yourself in this thread as the kind of liberal who is only fine with activism to the precise point where you might find yourself having to be figure out alternative arrangements. And that’s not a good place to be.

                  I can’t speak for Denverite, but this definitely doesn’t describe me. It’s not generally that hard for me to adapt to those inconveniences, but it’s not hard to imagine it being and there are people for who this is a true crisis. My concern is for people who honestly can’t afford to take a day off work to stay with their kids or will lose their job because of a prolonged public transit strike.

                  As an alternative, I’d prefer to see these workers treated like police/fire/federal workers, with strong arbitration processes in the place of work stoppages. Basically no one thinks that firefighters should legally be allowed to refuse to show up and put out a house fire over a contract dispute, and the big difference between them and, say, transit workers is that the people for whom the latter really are an existential necessity are largely invisible to the rest of society.

                • Ronan

                  I don’t have an opinion on the strike as i don’t know the details, and think denverite is overstating the inconvenience for parents here, but….”supporting unions”, or workers right to strike doesn’t mean thinking literally every strike regardless of context is sensible and/or correct, it means supporting their right to do it anyway and never crossing a picket line.
                  I’m not sure why it’s now assumed to mean “not allowed to have a negative opinion on it”

                • joe, I’m not Bijan. I’m not going to get in a personal insult-fest with you.

                  Er….what?

                  You’re being very weird in this thread.

  • Brett

    The legality of this strike is questionable, although I’d be surprised to see Emanuel do too much with that.

    Too short of a strike to bother. That said, there are some things that made me a little fearful of it:

    1. Rahm Emanuel is super-unpopular and not likely to return as Mayor, so he’s got little to lose aside from alienating whatever bank he goes to work for after his career in politics ends

    2. Rauner wants to crush the public sector unions

    3. CPS is in serious financial trouble after years of taking on increasingly bad debt to prolong the need for revenue increases or spending cutbacks (hell, they just did it again to buy themselves a handful of months)

    4. The strike is probably illegal.

    If Rahm had decided, “Fuck it” and took the opportunity to fire a bunch of teachers (since CPS is going to be doing major cutbacks again anyways), he could probably get away with it.

    • DocAmazing

      5. It’s on April Fools’ Day and everyone thinks that the teachers are going to laugh and return to classrooms any minute now.

      • Brett

        Heh. Good timing on their part.

        For a one-day strike, I don’t think anything will happen. Rahm and Rauner will make angry noises, but that’s about it.

  • Hayden Arse

    “CTU has deep roots in the Chicago community and is receiving a lot of community and labor support”

    I have to say that if there is community support for CTU, I am not witnessing any of it here in Chicago today. All that I have heard was along the lines of “What are those teachers whining about now?” and “I hope those teachers don’t make my commute harder with another one of their protests.” They may have legitimate grievances, I assume they do, but they are not being communicated effectively beyond those directly involved.

    • JL

      Once more, the polling as of two months ago, when there had already been strike talk for months, showed a solid majority (60%) of Chicago voters, and a huge majority (73%) of CPS parents, supporting CTU. And back during the 2012 strike, majorities of both Chicago voters in general and CPS parents supported the strike. I have not seen any polling for today, presumably because no pollster has had a chance to do it yet, but these numbers suggest that there’s quite a bit of support, even if not in your personal circles. They also suggest that the CTU is pretty damn good at communicating its legitimate grievances to the general public.

      Public liking for the protesters themselves isn’t even always necessary for protests to be effective – something that has been discussed quite a bit on here recently – but in this case they certainly seem to have it.

    • Major Rager

      My wife’s impression from the picket lines today is that they are hearing significantly less honking and cheering from passersby today than they did in 2012. Most of her coworkers aren’t going to be at the downtown protests later, for whatever that tells you about internal support.

      My perception is that the CORE caucus has always been god awful at messaging. It didn’t matter in 2012 because Emanuel grossly overplayed his hand, due to the fact that he’s totally out of touch with the state of mind of people making less than $500k/year. He thought everyone was a Rheeite, because everyone he speaks to is. CORE’s messaging incompetence matters now because a) the funding problems grow more stark and unsolvable by the day, and b) it seems the public, or at least everyone I’ve talked to, is less sympathetic now than they were 4 years ago.

      But hey let’s spend more time talking about a city income tax and BOT tax which we’ll never get and which wouldn’t fix the problem even if we did. These are definitely not the demented fantasies of people who never thought about politics until they were in their 30s/40s and their own retirement got imperiled.

      • Brett

        I suppose they might as well dream big, before CPS goes bankrupt and a quarter of them are laid off (or they all face massive pay-cuts). It’s not the union’s responsibility to plan a way out of a problem created by CPS and Chicago city leadership.

        The retired folks don’t need to worry. Their pensions just survived intact courtesy of the state court system and the Illinois state constitution.

        • Major Rager

          “It’s not the union’s responsibility to plan a way out of a problem created by CPS and Chicago city leadership.”

          Technically true, although that’s a pretty cavalier way to put it. I guess I’d just like to see the union focus on things it might actually have some speck of a chance of obtaining.

          “The retired folks don’t need to worry. Their pensions just survived intact courtesy of the state court system and the Illinois state constitution.”

          This assumption is being made by a lot of people who really can’t afford to make it, all across the state of Illinois, not just by retired CTU members. Winning at the state SC level that public pensions can’t be diminished is the epitome of a Pyrrhic victory, unless I missed the course in law school explaining where courts have hidden power to levy taxes. We aren’t planning on my wife’s pension being an actual real-world benefit because by the time she retires it will have been sliced and diced in the course of numerous political compromises. Those compromises are going to be brutal and they’re going to affect every public employee in the state of Illinois, the only question is when and how bad they get screwed.
          What the leadership of AFSCME et.al. was telling its members while devils like Blagojevich, Madigan and Daley were playing games with their lives is something I’ve often wondered about. I guess everyone thought the property bubble was a) real, and b) never-ending, so somehow this day would never come.

    • BGinCHI

      Are you Pauline Kael?

      “How can that be? No one I know voted for Nixon!”

      Or maybe the people you know are assholes. But I’m sure you are just trying to objectively figure things out.

      Idiot.

  • Deggjr

    Does everyone in the discussion realize that all CPS (non-charter) teachers and administrators are required to take three furlough (unpaid) days between March 25th and the end of the year?

    So the union created a fourth furlough day. There was plenty of CPS provided baby-sitting available.

    I don’t understand the criticism of the union. They were supposed to accept the first of several pay cuts without a complaint? Who would willingly do that?

    • LeoFromChicago

      Thanks for bringing this up. It was just last Friday (3/25) that CPS management went out on strike — opps, I mean, proclaimed a furlough day. The local anti-labor media (Trib, DNAinfo) ran no complaints about inconvenience last week. Strange that.

  • MidwestVillager

    I have difficulty seeing how this strike will accomplish anything. The 2012 strike was intended to change a policy made by CPS by applying pressure to voters who would in turn apply pressure to Rahm. In this case, addressing the deficit (other than through implausible spending cuts) would require additional state funding or a change in state law. The relevant political actors are therefore either Rauner or enough Republican state legislators to override his veto. Unfortunately I don’t see this doing anything to change Rauner’s mind because the voters effected are ones who overwhelmingly voted against him last time and he surely isn’t counting on winning to obtain reelection. The Republican state legislators are even more immune because they don’t represent Chicago in the first. I want an end to the state budget impasse and would be happy if this somehow accomplishes that but I just can’t imagine it applying pressure to Rauner and he’s the one who has the power to stop any solution.

    • Keep in mind, it’s a one-day event. It’s not like they’re staying out until they get some contract language.

      The union clearly understands your point about their pressure. It’s a publicity stunt, an act of protest intended to influence the political landscape.

    • Deggjr

      In a world where winning elections depends on getting your side out to vote, the one day strike was very effective. The Chicago Teachers Union turned out their people, despite CPS threats, Tribune editorials penned by teachers, etc.

      Rauner himself is untouchable. He had to pay people in gift cards in order to staff telephone banks. He has the money. Popularity doesn’t matter; Rauner, Sam Zell, Ken Griffin, Richard Uihlein have contributed enough money to buy whatever Rauner wants.

      Rahm and Senator Mark Kirk are very touchable, assuming Rahm has any political ambitions after his current term. Kirk has already met with Merrick Garland and has said he would consider voting for Garland.

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