Pressure On To Avoid Chicago Teacher Strike
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Now that Chicago school officials and representatives of the teachers union have rejected an independent report on a new contract, pressure is growing for them to come to terms.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports some parents, in particular, are running low on patience.
“It’s scary,” says Patricia O’Keefe, the mother of three children who attend Chicago Public Schools. “Everybody loses in a strike, but the real losers are the students and, honestly, the parents.”
O’Keefe, who served on a committee researching a longer school day, says it would be a shame if school and union officials can’t hammer out a contract before school begins, especially after an independent fact-finder harshly criticized both sides for their “toxic collective bargaining” relationship in his now-rejected report.
The report’s rejection by both sides set the strike clock in motion.
The earliest teachers could strike is Aug. 18 after a 30-day cooling off period. Some teachers, though, go back to work on Aug. 6 with classes starting on Aug. 13. That means they could be back at work with their future in limbo.
A new ad from Education Reform Now urges not only compromise but a longer school day – Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s top priority.
“We want both sides to put the sabers away, continue negotiation, come to a compromise and make sure that whatever comes out of this is the best result for kids,” says Angela Rudolph, Illinois policy director. “For us, the best result for kids is for them to have more time in the classroom.”
Rudolph declined to say who was funding the group, saying the not-for-profit organization would file disclosures at the end of the year.
In his report, the fact-finder expressed concern that both sides get it together so students don’t suffer.
The union would still have to set a strike date. A Chicago Teachers Union official said Thursday the CTU has not done that yet.
Pressure to avert a strike is on both sides, CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports. Emanuel has yet to make good on campaign promises of stronger schools and safer streets. Teachers, with average salaries of $76,000 a year, risk a backlash from parents making far less — if they have jobs at all.
Their relationship seems to have undergone a subtle shift. For the second day in a row, Emanuel refused to answer the questions he knew reporters had about the talks.
Talks this week focused on non-economic issues, including vacation and sick days and how education and experience pay off for teachers.
Sources say the Chicago Federation of Labor could play a role in the talks, as it has in past negotiations. President Jorge Ramirez has credibility in both camps, having helped turn a contentious relationship between the new mayor and trade unions into a more cooperative one.