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Aldermen Hoping Teachers’ Strike Ends Quickly

Chicago City Council Chambers (CBS)

Chicago City Council Chambers (CBS)

dellimore250 Craig Dellimore
Craig Dellimore, political editor for WBBM, joined the station in 1983...
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Updated 09/10/12 – 1:45 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – As contract talks resumed between striking Chicago Public School teachers and the Chicago Public Schools, disappointed aldermen were hoping the teachers’ strike would be a brief one.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) wasn’t taking sides in the ongoing contract dispute between teachers and the Emanuel administration.

Harris said both the teachers and CPS need to do more to resolve the strike, and should have prevented it.

“Considering we’re about 47th in the nation … in our nation for education,” she said. “We want to make sure that our kids are getting the best end of the stick.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd), whose ward has more schools than any other, said he hopes the strike won’t last long.

“Coming out of the briefing that was done by the mayor’s office, and representatives from the board, they say they only need three more hours, so let’s see if they can do it in three hours.”

But negotiators have been optimistic before, and have been wrong.

The Chicago Teachers Union went on strike at midnight, the first walkout for Chicago Public Schools since 1987.

Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) said, “this strike will affect (parents) in a devastating way, especially to the parent that absolutely must work.”

She said she supports teachers, but agrees with Mayor Rahm Emanuel that the walkout is a “strike of choice.”

Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) said a personality clash between the mayor and CTU President Karen Lewis “could be one of the biggest factors.”

“We can’t keep pointing fingers,” she said. “As adults, we can always have differences, but we need to rise above that as a public servant.”

The mayor has not been at the bargaining table himself, and Mitts said, “At some point, I think that maybe he needs to get involved with this.”

Austin said both sides should focus on what’s best for the students, and not let a personality clash get in the way of a fair deal.

“I believe that both of them have the children’s best interest, but then their own egos may get in the way,” she said.

Ald. George Cardenas (12th) also said he wishes teachers had put off a strike, if they’re as close to a deal as both sides have said.

“I just thought they should have stayed in the classroom, and just give negotiations a little more time, instead of this gamesmanship going on that I see,” he said. “It’s not about money. It just seems that way.”

He said he’s received calls from angry constituents asking why the two sides couldn’t agree on a deal to avoid a strike.

“I asked the same thing today when I went into the briefing. Why can’t you guys strike a deal?” Cardenas said. “Why shouldn’t we agree on evaluations? Why shouldn’t we agree on the fact that there’s a structural imbalance in CPS, and we need to address that?”

He said a strike impacts families beyond simply keeping kids out of school.

“You have families working two jobs, trying to make ends meet. They need the stability. They need to know that they’re going to drop their kids off, they’re going to learn something, they’re going to keep learning,” he said. “If you have child care that’s per-child, think about the amount of money you have to pay for that.”

Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said he was worried that having kids out of school during the strike might lead to “an uptick in crime, particularly among the adolescents and teenagers who suddenly find a lot of time on their hands.”

Ald. Will Burns (4th) echoed that sentiment, saying “school takes up a huge chunk of the day, and when kids are not in school, that means they’re unsupervised, which means they can get into potentially a lot of trouble.”

CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall contributed to this report.