Chicago Teachers Strike, Parents Scramble

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on September 10, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's back to school time in most of the country but the Chicago teachers' strike has put a halt on that for parents in the Illinois capital.

It's only the second week of school but there's been tension between teachers and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for a while. The previous contract between educators and the city expired in June and negotiations have been ongoing for months.

Those talks broke down Sunday and resulted in strike Monday morning, reports Reuters. That means problems for parents all over the city.

Chicago schools are closed today as teachers picket outside school buildings. Community centers and churches are available half days for some of the displaced students as part of a strike contingency plan paid for the by the school district.

Those locations will provide breakfast and lunch for students, the majority of whom receive subsidized or free meals, reports Reuters.

The teachers' union contract covers pay, hours, hiring, retention, and evaluations for teachers. Collective bargaining allows individual teachers to work together to get better results from the city.

Because of the volume of students in a city's public school system, strikes have to be carefully negotiated. The school is often responsible for finding alternative locations for students so that parents can work, as happened in this case.

Sensing a potential strike earlier this year, Emanuel got legislative approval to require 75% of teachers to agree before striking, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

He underestimated how upset they were over the issue. Ninety percent of teachers approved the walkout.

When negotiations began, educators wanted a 29% raise over two years. The city is now offering 16% over four years. The school day and year have already been lengthened by Emanuel's authority, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

This is Chicago's first teacher's strike in 25 years and it's unclear how long it will last. Negotiations resumed Monday morning but it may take time to resolve the remaining issues.

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