The mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, is asking that the courts end the teachers strike that has kept students from the country’s third-largest school district out of class since last week. As of Sunday, it seemed as if an agreement was close between the two sides but the teachers decided to continue the strike after becoming uncomfortable with a tentative offer.
Emanuel has asked attorneys for the city to file a court order that would force members of the Chicago Teachers Union to return to the classroom. This is the first time in 25 years that the city’s teachers have gone on strike, keeping 350,000 students from attending class.
The two issues keeping the sides apart from an agreement include teacher evaluations and job security.
“There’s no trust for our members of the board,” Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis said. “They’re not happy with the agreement. They’d like it to actually be a lot better.”
Emanuel has made it known that the strike is illegal because the students’ health and safety are endangered by not being in school. He also said the strike is illegal because the issues that caused the strike cannot be used for a work stoppage according to the state’s laws. Those issues include layoffs, recall rights and evaluations.
“This was a strike of choice and is now a delay of choice that is wrong for our children,” Emanuel said.
People think that the union is winning with the new contract, which will include annual pay raises among other benefits.
“I’m hard-pressed to imagine how they could have done much better,” Robert Bruno said. Bruno is a professor of labor and employment relations from the University of Illinois at Chicago. “This is a very impressive outcome for the teachers.”
Teachers in Chicago are some of the highest paid in the country as they have an average annual salary of $76,000. Even though the contract will have annual raises, a lot of the teachers are upset that it does not reinstate a 4 percent raise taken away by Emanuel last year.
The mayor was looking for a contract that increased the percentage of evaluations based on the performance of students. The increase would reach 35 percent within four years of the new contract being ratified. The union disagreed with that request from the mayor because they said it does not include outside factors such as violence and poverty, which can hurt a student’s performance in the classroom.