Analyst: Contract Dispute Has Strengthened Chicago Teachers Union

CHICAGO (CBS) — With both sides in the Chicago teachers’ strike optimistic a deal to end the walkout could be done by the end of the day, one Chicago political analyst said the Chicago Teachers Union could come out a big winner, and not just in terms of the contract they’re likely to get.

Dick Simpson, a former Chicago alderman who is now a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been watching the strike closely.

Simpson said Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s confrontational style has galvanized the CTU.

“He has made the CTU a much more effective union, and much more unified than it would be, normally,” Simpson said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

He argued most of the hardest issues in the contract dispute have been settled, including pay raises and step increases that average out to a 16 percent salary hike over four years for teachers.

“I think the teachers have already gotten much of what they wanted in wages, and I think by the end of the day, they will end up with most of their demands met,” he said.

Simpson argued the teachers’ strike has been politically polarizing.

“If you look at the signs that the teachers are carrying, many of them are particularly direct about Rahm Emanuel,” he said

Simpson said, during his push to reform the Chicago Public Schools, Emanuel disrespected teachers and drove lukewarm support for a strike to more than 90 percent.

“This is a town in which the Democratic Party depends on its union support, and Rahm may not only alienate the teachers; discussions with the firefighters and the police are not going well. He could well end up even more alienating the entire labor base,” he said.

CTU has repeatedly argued the Emanuel administration takes the credit for any successes by the public schools, while blaming teachers for any failures. During their repeated protests while out on strike, teachers have chanted that Emanuel needs to go.

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