Taking a page from Pennsylvania’s normal role as the nation’s leading teacher strike state, Chicago teachers have just issued a 10 day notice of intent to strike. Not happy with the District’s offer of 2 percent raises, the 26,000 member union threatens to send 400,000 students home for a longer holiday.
The head of the school district pledges to meet with the union every day to avoid a strike if at all possible. Teachers are upset with Mayor Emanuel’s rescinding last year’s pay raise-something that cannot happen in Pennsylvania. They are also unhappy with the new, longer 7 hour school day. Just wait until negotiations over how to determine pay raises other than automatic increases based on seniority begin. Seniority is among labor unions’ most sacred cows. This could get ugly.
And the irony is that this happening in Illinois which has one of the worst financial situations of any state in the country with bond downgrades already announced and more could be coming. After the dark of night, last minute 67 percent increase in personal income taxes a couple of years ago, there is little for Illinois taxpayers to be happy about. Now comes the threat of a strike that could be prolonged and the possibility that, in the end, teachers will get their hoped for raises and no change in evaluation procedures. Such an eventuality will almost certainly mean Chicagoans and Illinois taxpayers are going to digging even deeper.
All this is by way of pointing out the absolute absurdity of allowing teachers to strike in the first place. Historically, Illinois along with Ohio and Pennsylvania, have accounted for virtually all teacher strikes in the U.S. Ohio tried to stop them but lost a referendum vote that repealed the elimination statute. Pennsylvania, the nation’s foremost victim of teacher strikes, has not seriously taken up the elimination of strikes. And one can rest assured that as soon as the economy shows any signs of sustained improvement, the Commonwealth will see its status of national leader return. Wisconsin has outlawed teacher strikes shrinking the list where strikes are allowed even further. And it is important to note that all of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states do not permit strikes.