This is from The Chicago Tribune,

Has Rahm”The Ballerina” Emanuel finally grown a pair?

Sadly something about this is not passing the smell test.

I hope Mayor Emanuel holds the unions feet to the fire.

 

Chicago Public Schools will remain closed until at least Wednesday, as union leaders continue to mull over a proposed contract and the mayor threatens to seek a court injunction to force teachers back to work.
The teachers union’s House of Delegates refused to halt the walk out this afternoon after members signaled they needed additional time to digest the details of the deal.  The potential for 120 school closings in the coming years, first reported by the Tribune, is among the concerns.

“They’re not happy with the agreement. They’d like it to be a lot better for us than it is,” Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said.

In response to the strike’s extension, Mayor Rahm Emanuel blasted the teachers union in a statement for failing to end the work stoppage and said he plans to seek an injunction to force the walk to end and get kids back to school.

“I will not stand by while the children of Chicago are played as pawns in an internal dispute within a union. This was a strike of choice and is now a delay of choice that is wrong for our children. Every day our kids are kept out of school is one more day we fail in our mission: to ensure that every child in every community has an education that matches their potential,” Emanuel said.

“I have instructed the City’s Corporation Counsel to work with the General Counsel of Chicago Public Schools to file an injunction in circuit court to immediately end this strike and get our children back in the classroom.” the mayor said.

“This continued action by union leadership is illegal on two grounds – it is over issues that are deemed by state law to be non-strikable, and it endangers the health and safety of our children…While the union works through its remaining issues, there is no reason why the children of Chicago should not be back in the classroom as they had been for weeks while negotiators worked through these same issues.”

The delegates want to take the tentative contract to the rest of the members, talk it over, and return on Tuesday to vote on whether to end the work stoppage. Union leaders will not be continuing contract negotiations over the next few days, although they will be continuing to work on the language of the contract agreement, which had not been finished as of Sunday, Lewis said.

The vote on the strike is planned for Tuesday, not Monday, because of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

The union’s more than 700 delegates have the authority to formally end the strike but not to approve the contract. The union’s full membership of roughly 26,000 teachers and paraprofessionals presumably will have an opportunity to vote on the contract in the coming weeks.

The strike’s extension clearly bothers some CPS parents, especially those who have scrambled to find child care and keep their children occupied during the work stoppage. The latest development seems even more upsetting to some families, given union leadership had offered the impression that Sunday’s vote was a formality and classes would resume Monday.

“It’s very frustrating,” said parent Humberto Ramirez of the Jefferson Park neighborhood. “We all kind of put everything on hold in finding different ways to watch the kids and keep them entertained. It’s been very, very frustrating, especially knowing that earlier (this week) that they were close, that they were simply going to be putting it to a vote. It certainly sounded as though they were very, very, close and they were simply then dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s.”

The decision to stay on strike came at the end of a nearly three-hour meeting this afternoon in Chinatown, where delegates were briefed on the tentative agreement between union leaders and Chicago Public Schools. The two sides, which had been engaged in tense contract negotiations for 10 months, announced Friday that they had the framework for a new contract.

“There is no reason why our kids cannot be in school while the union reviews the agreement,” Chicago Public Schools Board President David Vitale said at a news conference.

“It has now become a delay of choice,” he said, echoing the mayor’s harsh rhetoric. “Our kids cannot be used as pawns in internal union disagreements.”

The proposed deal calls for a three-year contract, with an option for a fourth year that both the district and union must agree to. There would be 3 percent raises in years one and four, and 2 percent raises in years two and three, according to the union.

So-called “step and lane” increases, raises given out for years of service and continuing education, would be preserved under the contract, according to the union. And the three highest steps would be increased.

The union also said it had come to an agreement with CPS officials on the sticky issues of performance reviews and teacher recall when schools close. Standards for teacher evaluations that could lead to firings would be eased, and some higher-rated teachers could get a better shot at being recalled after layoffs, sources said.

By refusing to call off the strike, the union continues months of public sparring between union leaders and the mayor, whose school reform agenda centered on lengthening what had been among one of the shortest public school days in the country.

To build momentum early on, the mayor offered cash incentives for schools whose teachers defied the union by voting to opt out of their contracts and extend the school day a year before it would be implemented across the district.

At the same time Emanuel was promoting a longer school day, he endorsed rescinding the four-percent raises owed teachers in their current deal, saying it was necessary to close CPS’ estimated $750 million budget gap.
Emanuel’s tough talk on education reform and his willingness to work with national groups whose reform efforts undermined organized labor, galvanized the teachers union and its members. Joined by members of Chicago’s Occupy movement, union teachers staged school sit-ins, picketed school board meetings, and chanted “fight” and “strike” in a rally of thousands at the city’s downtown Auditorium Theater in May.

Weeks later, more than 90 percent of the union’s 25,000-plus members authorized a strike if a new contract could not be reached.

 

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