An angry Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s appeal to the courts to end a six-day teachers strike in the nation’s third-largest city set off a new round of recriminations Monday, but did little to end a walkout that has left parents scrambling and kept 350,000 students out of class.
It might not matter. By the time a Cook County Circuit Court judge considers the issue, the city’s teachers might well have voted to end the strike and recommend they agree to a tentative contract that labor and education experts — and even some union leaders elsewhere — called a good deal for the union.
“This was an enormously successful strike [thus far],” said Emily Rosenberg, director of the Labor Education Center at DePaul University in Chicago. “I’ve never seen solidarity like this among teachers.”
The dust-up in court may never move past the 700-page brief filed by city attorneys that contends the strike is an illegal act that presents a danger to the health and safety of the district’s students.
Judge Peter Flynn set a hearing for Wednesday, a day after the union is set to meet for a second time to discuss an offer than includes pay raises and concessions from the city on the contentious issues of teacher evaluations and job security.
The filing was indicative of how the union has perceived Emanuel’s handling of the negotiations, and that may be the biggest remaining point of contention between the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union.
The union immediately condemned Emanuel’s play in court, in which the city said “a vulnerable population has been cast adrift,” as an act of vindictiveness by a “bullying” mayor who was attempting to “thwart our democratic process.”
Both sides have only released summaries of the proposed agreement.