- Except for Harold Washington's 1983 - 1987 tenure until
his untimely death, Chicago never had populist mayors, notably under father
Richard J. (April 20, 1955 - December 20, 1976) and son Richard M. Daley
(April 24, 1989 - May 16, 2011).
- However, after two months in office, Emanuel looks likely
to be Chicago's worst, based on policy initiatives he supports.
- As White House chief of staff, he was criminally part
of Obama's war cabinet. As Chicago's mayor, he's waging it against labor.
- Candidate Emanuel, in fact, promised draconian anti-worker
cuts "in attacking our budget deficit, (so) there must be no sacred
cows....Chicago will have to make tough choices, (forcing) more than $500
million in efficiencies" on the backs of working Chicagoans already
struggling to get by when they need help, not greater sacrifices they can't
- No matter, slash and burn now is policy, including layoffs,
wage freezes, and benefit cuts, notably targeting healthcare and pensions.
Then in June, Emanuel rescinded a contractual 4% raise owed 30,000 teachers,
indicating the same policy would follow for other Chicago Public Schools
(CPS) employees as part of his war on public education and Chicago workers.
- In late June, it continued with 1,000 teachers fired,
besides 4,000 since 2009, school closures, larger class sizes, and other
draconian measures. Reassigned teachers retain salaries and benefits for
one year as "interim" substitute staff. If not kept after 10
months, they're "honorabl(y) terminated."
- In other words, fired, no matter their qualifications,
tenure, or student needs. In fact, many other teachers were sacked without
temporary pay or benefits, according to union officials, who have little
to boast about after endorsing Illinois Senate Bill 7 (SB 7).
- Its provisions include using standardized tests to fire
teachers, regardless of seniority, tenure, qualifications, or how students
respond to effective classroom practices, what rote memory tests can't
measure. It also lets school districts increase hours per day, and add
extra school weeks, with no additional compensation. In addition, teacher
strikes are prohibited until after four months of negotiations plus a special
arbitration panel's ruling.
- Even then, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) must give
10 days notice backed by 75% of its members to approve a walkout. In other
words, SB 7 empowers state and city authorities over their right to demand
equity or walk out.
- At the same time, CPS executives got salary increases
up to 30% over their predecessors. Emanuel's new CPS head, Jean-Claude
Brizard, earns $250,000 plus a 15% incentive package. Earlier as Rochester,
New York public schools superintendent, 95% of teachers deplored his policies
- Moreover, he's named in two federal lawsuits regarding
improper handling of budget cuts and school closures. Earlier, he attended
the notorious Superintendents' Academy of the Broad Center for the Management
of School Systems, founded by corporate predator Eli Broad to train administrators
on restructuring and privatizing public education at the expense of educating
- Nonetheless, Emanuel wants him to replicate what he did
in Rochester. Elizabeth Swanson is his deputy chief of staff, formerly
(billionaire Penny) Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation executive director.
- It advocates merit pay, school privatizations, and other
regressive policies supported by Arne Duncan, former CPS head. He's now
Obama's Education Secretary, appointed to wreck public education nationwide
through his Race to the Top scheme, linking federal funding to compliance
with retrograde federal standards. They mandate:
- -- open-ended conversion of public schools to charter
or for-profit ones;
- -- running them by marketplace rules;
- -- requiring state laws conform with federal ones;
- -- linking teacher pay to student achievement as determined
by standardized tests that measure rote memory, not real learning or preparation
for higher education;
- -- destroying unions and teacher benefits;
- -- empowering bureaucrats over parents to decide what's
best for their children;
- -- creating a two-tiered, class and income-based system,
favoring affluent communities over poor ones, denying poor kids real education
and a chance for a better future; and
- -- destroying public education by creating another business
profit profit center.
- Emanuel plans more of it for Chicago, including weakening
collective bargaining and teachers' right to strike, the same core issues
Wisconsin state workers tried and so far failed to save, perhaps heading
for the chopping block in Chicago.
- In fact, Emanuel explained:
- "As we (prohibit strikes by) police and firefighters,
I would have it for teachers because they provide an essential service."
- Of course, so do all public and private workers, entitled
to rights like everyone, including to bargain collectively and strike if
- Since taking office, however, Emanuel waged war on Chicago
workers, implementing austerity like Obama's doing nationally at a time
massive stimulus is needed.
- Sworn in on May 16, his 25-minute address mimicked Obama,
calling for "shar(ing) the necessary sacrifices fairly and justly."
In other words, make working Chicagoans sacrifice so corporate interests
and city elites share, the same cancer metastasizing across America, destroying
an earlier time long gone.
- Saying "Chicago is ready for change," he omitted
hard truths he began implementing on the backs of struggling working households.
They need help, not greater hardships with lots more coming to close a
$700 million budget gap and resolve $14.6 billion in underfunded pension
liabilities perhaps by expunging them and cheating retirees.
- While campaigning, in fact, he told city unions he planned
pension cuts for all city employees, privatizations of many city services,
selling Chicago incrementally to corporate favorites, and restructuring
of revenue, finance, fleet management, and general service systems.
- Prioritized is:
- -- downsizing government;
- -- slashing the city's $6.15 billion budget;
- -- cutting management payrolls by 10% by merging departments;
- -- laying off city workers;
- -- privatizing city services, including public education
- -- ending past social reforms;
- -- deregulation;
- -- encouraging private investment through tax breaks;
- -- getting tougher on crime by reassigning 1,000 police
to city streets, including hundreds to poor neighborhoods to harass Blacks
- -- improving Chicago's business climate in collaboration
with complicit unions, betraying their rank and file for a seat at the
table plus high salaries, excellent benefits, and generous perks.
- On July 15, Emanuel announced laying off 625 city workers.
Affected are custodians, water department call center operators, and transportation
department seasonal workers.
- He also announced new privatizations. In addition, cost-cutting
work rules are being discussed with union bosses, including unpaid days
off, paid holidays reduced from 12 to nine, and new hoisting engineer wage
differentials, based on machines they operate.
- Other work rules he wants implemented include:
- -- paying workers time-and-a-half for overtime instead
- -- paying regular, not extra wages for prep time;
- -- a standard 40-hour week for all city employees, replacing
35 hours for some;
- -- regardless of union affiliation, workers doing the
same job will get no wage differential;
- -- salaried employees will get the same number of sick
days and holidays as hourly ones;
- -- rate differences for driving different vehicles or
operating various non-vehicular equipment will be eliminated;
- -- workers alone on a truck paid no more than as part
of a crew; and
- -- union apprenticeship cost saving programs will be
- Moreover, city workers no longer will provide airport
and library custodial services. Private companies will replace them at
- In addition, seasonal transportation department workforces
will be cut 75%. As a result, 61 fewer blocks of curb and gutter improvements
will be made, as well as 76 fewer sidewalk blocks repaired.
- Henceforth, a professional benefits management company,
not public staff, will handle city benefit services at greater cost to
the city and taxpayers.
- Chicago's water bill call center will also be privatized,
again at greater cost.
- Overall, hundreds of city workers will be sacked to allegedly
save millions of dollars. In fact, costs will be increased, not cut, making
Chicagoans pay for privatized services public workers can do as well cheaper.
- According to American Federation of State, County and
Municipal (AFSCME) Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer:
- "Mayor Emanuel's announced intention to lay off
625 employees will diminish the availability and quality of city services
on which Chicago residents depend. It will also" increase already
high city unemployment.
- "We are surprised and disappointed at (his) scattershot
approach to the city's budget shortfall. We are paricularly disappointed
that most of his bullets are aimed at frontline employees who do the real
work of city government."
- "Contrary to (his) claim, neither he nor his representatives
have ever made any attempt to meet with our union to negotiate changes
to work rules....If the mayor were serious about (instituting positive
changes), he would have taken the appropriate measures to engage in such
discussions." Not doing so shows "blaming union work rules for
(Chicago's) massive deficit is mere public relations gimmickry."
- "In that spirit, we call on the Mayor to rescind
his layoff threat and work collaboratively to reduce costs while protecting
city services and jobs."
- In fact, AFSCME, CTU, and other city union bosses collaborate
with city management, furthering their own interests over rank-and-file
members they pretend to represent. As a result, Bayer's statement rings
hollow, common practice to make workers think he's on their side when,
in fact, he and other union heads fall short.
- In Chicago, Illinois and across America, government and
corrupted union bosses collaborate against workers, agreeing on wage freezes,
benefit cuts, and layoffs, making already dire conditions worse.
- As a result, harder than ever hard times deepen to assure
corporate favorites and wealthy elites benefit at the expense of troubled
working households being scammed.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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