The PJ Tatler

Chicago's Teachers Unions Strike (Updated)

The local paper headlines the strike in passive voice:

Picket lines up after CPS, teachers fail to prevent strike

It’s as if the strike is a force of nature that no person or group controls or could have prevented. The reality is, the teachers unions want benefits that the people can no longer afford to support.

Striking for the first time in 25 years, Chicago’s teachers set up picket lines this morning after talks with public school officials ended over the weekend without resolution.

“Rahm says cut back, we say fight back,” picketers dressed in red T-shirts chanted this morning outside Chicago Public Schools headquarters.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis announced late Sunday night that weekend talks had failed to resolve all the union’s issues.  “We have failed to reach an agreement that will prevent a labor strike,” she said. “No CTU members will be inside of our schools Monday.”

Whatever happened to “For the children!” The children don’t matter as much to the unionized teachers as their own pockets matter to them.

The district said it offered teachers a 16 percent pay raise over four years and a host of benefit proposals.

Out in the private sector, among the taxpayers who are paying to keep the schools funded, people who have jobs have forgotten what a raise is.

Lewis said the two sides are close on teacher compensation but the union has serious concerns about the cost of health benefits, the makeup of the teacher evaluation system and job security.

Job security? With 23 million unemployed and underemployed?

For educators, there seem to be few among the striking unionized teachers who understand math. There are fewer workers in the economy that their hero Barack Obama has delivered. There is also virtually no economic growth. Fewer workers and no growth mean the public sector cannot be as fat as it has been. Families who cannot even afford staycations and whose jobs are far from secure are in no mood to keep union bosses happy.

We’ll soon see whose side Mayor Rahm Emanuel ends up on — the taxpayers’ and 400,000 students or the unions’. He ought to go the path Gov. Scott Walker blazed in Wisconsin and break the unions’ power over the public purse for good. But being a Democrat, he is likely to put his party before the city and its burdened taxpayers.

Update: Here is union boss Karen Lewis announcing the strike, posted without comment.

The union’s major gripe appears not to be the raises that they have been guaranteed but which aren’t happening in the private sector. Their gripe is accountability. They’re not happy with the idea that they have to prove that they’re good at their jobs.

So 400,000 kids won’t be in class today, and Chicago is still in the midst of a crime wave. Where is Mayor Emanuel?

Rahmbo is hiding out.

While the mayor kept close tabs on negotiations behind the scenes, Emanuel has maintained a relatively low public profile since returning from the Democratic National Convention late Wednesday, a trip he cut short.

The mayor hasn’t had a public schedule since last Tuesday, the first day of school for most Chicago Public School students.