There seems to be a difference of opinion on how close the Chicago Public Schools is to arriving at an agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union.
“I am disappointed that we have come to this point, given that even all the other parties acknowledge how close we are, because this is a strike of choice,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said late Sunday. “Because of how close we are, it is a strike that is unnecessary.”
“To say that the contract will be settled today is lunacy,” union president Karen Lewis told the cheering crowd of teachers, whom she addressed as “brothers and sisters.”
“The Chicago Teachers Union has 49 Articles in its contract (and) to date we have only signed off on six of them,” said union spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin. “The Chicago Public Schools has made proposals to change nearly every article. It is not accurate to say both sides are extremely close. This is misinformation on behalf of the board and Mayor Emanuel. We have a considerable way to go. This is a fact they cannot deny.”
If anything, it sounds to me like the two parties are farther apart than ever:
With more than 350,000 children from kindergarten to high school age out of school, the patience of parents and labor negotiators began to fray as hopes of a quick resolution to the biggest U.S. labor strike in a year were dashed.
“There’s frustration on both sides,” Jesse Ruiz, vice president of the Chicago Board of Education, said on Wednesday. “There’s got to be give and take.”
Talks are scheduled to resume on Wednesday. Emanuel on Sunday called the strike “unnecessary” and said a deal was close. But fiery union president Karen Lewis, who has called Emanuel a “liar and a bully,” on Tuesday said the two sides had agreed on only six of 49 provisions of a new contract.
An exasperated Chicago School Board President David Vitale said he would not go back to the negotiating table until the union made a comprehensive proposal to resolve the strike.
I don’t usually see name-calling as a sign of progress.
As I said yesterday, I am increasingly seeing the dispute as being an interpersonal conflict—Rahm Emanuel vs. Karen Lewis. I don’t think that they like or respect one another.
I’m beginning to wonder about the underlying story in all of this. One explanation I’ve heard for the dispute is that Rahm Emanuel has been deputized by the national Democratic Party to forge a new dynamics in the relationships between public employees’ unions and big city governments. As evidence for this see stories of how the dispute is being widely scrutinized by public officials in surrounding cities, states, and all over the country. They’re not hard to find.
I don’t believe that explanation. I think that Emanuel is eager to carve out a name for himself and picked the negotiations with the CTU as his target. Unfortunately, he’s got a lot of other things, many not related to Chicago, on his plate and he does not seem to be a small print kind of guy. This is a small print kind of situation.
Well, fortunately for Rahm Emanuel he’s got quite a long time until the next mayoral election and there’s, essentially, no way for Chicago to get rid of him before then by which time, with his luck, Chicagoans will have forgotten all about it. Maybe he’ll be ready to run for president by then.