Chicago teachers union strikes leaves parents and students scrambling
Contract talks between the Chicago Board of Education and the Chicago Teachers Union were expected to resume on Monday after thousands of Chicago’s teachers walked off of the job overnight in what has become a national test pitting a Democrat-controlled city against unionized former allies.
More than 26,000 teachers and support staff shut down the nation’s third-largest school district, creating logistical and childcare problems for parents of the almost 400,000 students who attend the district’s schools. It was the first schools strike in Chicago in about a quarter of a century.
The issues are local, involving salaries, fringe benefits and job security, but the national impact is undeniable.
The school district opened 144 of its 578 schools for part of the dayto provide a safe environment and meals to children in need. Dozens of churches and civic organizations stepped in to provide activities for the thousands of suddenly idle students. And police, expecting an uptick in trouble with more kids on the streets, pulled officers from desk duty to increase patrols.
The union that represents nearly 30,000 teachers and support staff in the nation’s third-largest school district called the strike after negotiators failed to reach a contract agreement with school administrators despite 10 months of talks.
“This is not a strike I wanted,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel told reporters at a televised news conference Sunday night, not long after the union announced the action. “It was a strike of choice … it’s unnecessary, it’s avoidable and it’s wrong.”
“We will make sure our kids are safe, we will see our way through these issues and our kids will be back in the classroom where they belong,” Emanuel said.
“The mayor, the teachers union, the board of education need to stay in that room and resolve this,” said Bishop Larry Trotter at news conference at Sweet Holy Spirit Church. “It doesn’t need to go past today.”
Trotter, whose church is offering a safe haven for students while school is not in session, said the strike is jeopardizing the education and safety of local youth. The strike puts “our children back on the street so they can be the target of bullets,” he said.