Chicago Teachers Union Strike: Who Is Right?

Chicago, IL – Teachers are now famously on strike in the Windy City, prompting many to wonder what the hubbub is all about. Are Chicago teachers protestors against the city’s infamous political thuggery or unwitting national examples of it? Does the Union have a genuine point to make, or is the strike motivated by greed?

Dennis Byrne argues in the Chicago Tribune that ultimately, the strike will hurt the city. He ponders how far fallen Unions have become, beginning as forces for good, elevating under-appreciated yet key professionals “scraping out a meager living in low-paid and dangerous jobs into the middle class,” to showing children “the meaning of greed,” in the 2012 teacher strike. He argues that teachers in Chicago should be happy with their average salaries of $71,000 and the offered 16% raise, especially since performance in Chicago public schools continues to fall.

Rick Perlstein of Salon offers the opposite viewpoint. Though the strike may appear to be about greed, it’s really an indictment of plutocracy. “Chicago’s public schoolteachers are on strike against the city government and Mayor Rahm Emanuel,” writes Perlstein, who also argues that Emanuel is “obsessed” with proving his “toughness.” Perlstein argues that it’s ironic that Emanuel is only tough with workers and protesters, and not with “the vested interests, including anti-union charter school advocates” who donated millions of dollars to his campaign. Emanuel wants see “20% more work” for “2% more pay,” Perlstein argues.

The best argument stemming from the Chicago teacher strike is from Andrew Rotherham of Time. He says that the issue can be solved easily if the negotiations are made public. The perspectives of both sides are different from what we see in the media, and public negotiations would shed more light on the subject. He writes, “negotiating in public shouldn’t be about tilting the field one way or the other. It should be about moving important education issues into the light of day. At least then, citizens could get a full understanding of what’s behind the drama in places like Chicago and Douglas County.”

What do you think about the Chicago Teachers Union strike? Who’s right and who’s wrong?