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Chicago teachers strike continues, Emanuel says he will sue to force end

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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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Teachers strike heads to Day Two; Board chief tells union ‘we should resolve this’ Tuesday

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This is from The Chicago Sun Times

This strike is meant to embarrass Rahm the ballerina and Obama.

Because as DemocRats they both owe their souls to the unions.

The strike is a power play to be able to keep poor teachers.

The union has already turned down 16% worth of raises.

The union will not allow teacher evaluations to weed out poor teachers.

The poor performing teachers get protected.

While teacher’s that excel in their jobs get a black eye from the slackers.

Chicago braced for Day Two of a teacher strike Tuesday, with teachers buoyed by a boisterous first day of picketing and contract talks side-stepping what Mayor Rahm Emanuel identified as the two major sticking points.

School Board President David Vitale left the first post-strike talks Tuesday at 6:40 p.m., saying CPS officials had told the union “We should resolve this tomorrow. We are close enough.’’

However, Vitale conceded negotiators did not even attack what the mayor contended are the two biggest issues in the nine-month dispute: job security and teacher evaluations.

“The union said they were not ready for discussion on those particular issues,’’ said Vitale, leaving behind other Chicago Public School negotiators to continue talks late into the night on “technical issues.’’

Vitale said both sides made proposals, and that they would be analyzed overnight.

“We’re working at this, but this is hard work,” Vitale said. “We want to get this resolved. We want our kids back in school.”

 

Hours earlier, thousands of striking Chicago teachers flooded the Loop, rallying for a new contract on Day One of the first Chicago teachers strike in 25 years.

Police estimated the crowd at 5,000 to 7,000.

A river of red-shirted teachers, waving banners and chanting, clogged South Clark Street during their march from Chicago Public Schools headquarters to City Hall.

A frequent chant: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Rahm Emanuel has got to go!”

One of many who expressed delight at the turnout was Susan Kang, a teacher at Sumner Elementary.

“It’s really amazing,’’ said Kang. “This is what we were hoping for — that we’d come out strong and send a message to the [Chicago School] Board and Rahm Emanuel that they can’t just bully us around.’’

Some teachers who had walked picket lines outside their schools earlier in the day brought their kids in strollers to the march on City Hall.

The intersection of Clark and Monroe turned into a knot of solid red, clogged with so many people it was hard to move. The constant beat of drums and muffled chants gave the scene almost a carnival atmosphere. And more people kept pouring into the area.

Gisele Anderson, 10, held up a sign that read: “Treat my dad with respect.” Gisele’s father is a teacher at Owen Scholastic Academy.

“We don’t want to strike,” said Gisele’s father, Eric Anderson. “My daughters are both CPS students. As a teacher and a parent, it’s tough for us as well. We have to figure out child care just like everybody else. So we’d like to see this resolved.”

Drawing attention

The strike that stilled the classrooms of the nation’s third-largest school system also drew national attention Monday.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he was “disappointed” in the union for turning its back on negotiations, and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) urged both sides back to the negotiating table.

On the education front, the National Center for Fair & Open Testing took up the CTU’s cause.

FairTest policy analyst Lisa Guisbond called Chicago’s strike “the tip of the iceberg of teacher frustration with so-called ‘reform’ policies, which place the blame on educators for problems largely caused by the impoverished settings in which their students must live.”

Sunday night, Emanuel blasted the walkout as “a strike of choice’’ in a hastily called news conference at the Harold Washington Library.

On Monday, he urged both sides to “stay at the table and finish it for our children.” In particular, he backed the board’s offer on what to do with laid off teachers, insisting that principals needed the power to pick their own school teams.

“If we’re gonna hold our local principals in the school accountable for getting the results we need, they need to pick the best qualified [teachers],” the mayor said.

However, CTU officials said the board was not being fair to teachers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. And they feared that number will be on a constant increase, amid CPS plans to close more schools and create more charters that do not hire CTU teachers.

The CTU also considers the board’s teacher evaluation system as unfair to teachers.

Monday morning, teachers showed up in force on picket lines as parents dropped their children off at 144 contingency elementary and high schools across the city, as well as at parks, libraries and YMCAs.

Many parents expressed frustrations with CPS and Emanuel, while aldermen were virtually unanimous in blaming the union.

Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) brought his son to work Monday as he headed to a third-floor meeting room at City Hall to get briefed on the strike.

Maldonado blamed the union as he walked into the briefing room with his 7-year-old son, Roberto II, carrying a backpack.

“This is the effect of the union right now,” Maldonado, whose wife had the couple’s two other children Monday.

“We’re lucky enough that is not that much of a hardship on us, But it’s a hardship on the kids.”

“The reason that they decided to go on strike is a stretch,” he continued. “If there are no challenges in terms of the financial aspects of the negotiations and the only hang-up is the thing about imposing upon principals to hire laid-off teachers. … I need to give [the principal] the flexibility to hire who they perceive to be the best teachers. That’s just logical.”

At Lane Tech High School on the Northwest Side, more than 200 teachers marched along Addison and Western, chanting and prompting numerous motorists to honk their car horns in support. A CTA bus joined the loud chorus of horns, and a Chicago Police car turned on its lights as it went past.

Steve Parsons, the lead picket who teaches AP psychology at the high school, said Monday: “It’s all up to Mayor Emanuel. We all want to go back to the classrooms. The mayor is not valuing our opinions as educators.”

Honking horns of support also greeted the dozens of pickets at Curie High School on the Southwest Side.

Curie’s union delegate, Adam Heenan, who was up until 2 a.m. preparing for the strike, was outside Curie at 6:30 a.m. Monday. He said teachers were “prepared to strike again tomorrow and prepared to go back to the classrooms tomorrow — that’s what we do, we prepare.”

“This is new for everybody,” he said.

About 30 students walked past their picketing teachers to show up at Hefferan on the West Side.

That was down from a typical attendance of 260, Principal Jacqueline Hearns said.

At Mount Greenwood Elementary on the Southwest Side, the Ohse family — including Keira, 6, Katie, 4, and Connor, 1 — arrived wearing red T-shirts in support of the striking teachers.

“We have two kids here at Mt. Greenwood,” said Barb Ohse, standing with her husband, Rory, “and we’re both union with the fire department, and we’re firm believers in the rights of the students and teachers. It’s all about the good working conditions and being compensated for the hard work you do.”

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