Tuesday, April 4, 2017

May 1 Strike?

There Will Be No May 1st One Day Strike!
By Jim Vail

The Chicago Teachers Union wants to have a one-day strike May 1st, but it will not happen.

The teachers at my school Hammond Elementary are mostly against it and the other teachers I talk to are against it.

CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey told delegates at the March training that unless the union is unified and most support the one-day strike, then it will not happen. He then asked for a show of hands of who is in support of a one-day strike. Of about 200 delegates at the training, maybe 40 percent raised their hands.

Now of course this will be different if the the CTU officers press the delegates at Wednesday's scheduled House of Delegates April meeting to drum up support for the one-day strike. But it looks like many teachers have made it clear they do not want to go out on May 1st, which is International Worker's Day.


First - A one-day strike, in my humble opinion, would add to the confusion already out there about how many days of school the children are missing. The mayor and governor are threatening to end school June 1st and cancel three weeks of classes. Why would the teachers add to another day of absence for the kids at this juncture?

Second - teachers are already getting four furlough days of no pay, on top of the threatened 3 more weeks of no pay, adding up to possibly a 10% pay cut. Thanks, but no thanks, say many teachers who are already hurting after the last contract was voted on and ratified last fall.

Third - Is the union playing fast and loose with the word Strike! The union did not go on strike last fall and instead quickly got its member to sign on to a contract that 30 percent were upset with. There were many reasons to go on strike last fall, but the union leadership chose not to. 

They did have a 1-day April 1st Fool's Day strike last year and, as suspected, some union officials are calling that our strike. There were many delegates including myself back then who were against a one-day strike since it seemed confusing. That was not a strike against the contract. It was a strike, in the union's words - to put pressure on the state legislature to come up with the funding for the schools.

It worked, kind of I guess, or at least according to the teachers union. Money came in. However, when the CTU signed off on the new contract last October, 2016, it was predicated on monies that were precariously in place.

The governor's swift veto of $215 million for the pension quickly dispelled the contract, and now CPS is tearing up our contract with furlough days, more threatened cut work time, etc.

No, there will be no May 1st strike.  There may be a major demonstration planned, in which case getting 5,000 red shirts downtown blocking traffic and demanding the mayor and governor come up with the money they have to not close school early.  

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