Trade unionists and defenders of public education were outraged to learn that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called for a court injunction to end the one-week strike of the 26,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU)
Emanuel’s late-night announcement on September 17 came immediately after the CTU’s House of Delegates, with representatives from all the city’s 600 schools, voted to continue the strike for at least two days, so that they could seriously review the complicated and lengthy proposed settlement agreed to earlier in the day by CTU and the Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
The House of Delegates felt they needed more time to discuss the tentative agreement and clarify all the details before deciding to end the strike. In addition, according to reports, many delegates were dissatisfied with aspects of the proposed agreement and felt that the bargaining team could still do better. The House of Delegates voted to meet again on Tuesday, September 18.
Emanuel’s injunction threat raises the stakes in this struggle to a new level. Emanuel is now claiming that the “continued action by the union leadership is illegal on two grounds — it is over issues that are deemed by state law to be non-strikeable, and it endangers the health and safety of our children.”
Both of these claims are without merit: The teachers are striking over multiple issues in the contract that are strikeable and have not been resolved. Moreover, one of the major complaints from teachers and parents in Chicago is precisely about the unsafe and unhealthy conditions in most public schools.
Emanuel’s call for an injunction will no doubt infuriate the teachers, who have constantly denounced the mayor’s “bullying tactics” against their union. The mayor’s latest move shows clearly that he and the school board, acting overtly on behalf of corporate interests hell-bent on privatizing and dismantling public education in Chicago and across the country, will stop at nothing in their drive to weaken and if possible destroy the union.
This is why it is more necessary than ever to ratchet up effective labor-community support for the embattled Chicago teachers to beat back this attack and win this struggle in defense of public education.
Should the Chicago Teachers Union decide on Tuesday, September 18 to continue their strike, we in the Emergency Labor Network urge labor, student, and community organizations to organize mass mobilizations — up to and including walkouts, occupations, and job actions — in solidarity with their struggle.
An injury to one is an injury to all!