By the time this article
circulates, it may be all over but the shouting, finger-pointing, and
bitterness among rank-and-file loyalists over another union sellout.
As this is written, it looks that way. It won't surprise. Across America,
union bosses keep prioritizing their own positions and welfare over
workers they represent.
Instead of fighting for rights they deserve, they capitulate to corporate
and government scoundrels. Wisconsin public workers learned the hard
way. The state was ground zero to save public worker rights.
During February and March 2011, they waged an epic struggle. It captured
international attention. It ended with a whimper, not a bang. When the
dust settled, they lost jobs, wages, benefits, and bargaining rights.
The Madison-based South Central Federation of Labor passed a hollow
general strike resolution. Nothing was done to initiate an urgent action
many workers demanded.
AFL-CIO, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
(AFSCME), and NEA-affilated Wisconsin Education Association Council
(WEAC) leaders abandoned their struggle and sold out Republican Governor
Scott Walker's wish list.
It didn't surprise. It been happening across America regularly. Workers
have been ill represented for decades. The 1981 PATCO (Professional
Air Traffic Controllers Organization) strike was seminal. It was a shot
across organized labor's bow.
Over 11,000 workers lost jobs. AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland conspired
with Ronald Reagan in union-busting. During the 1980s alone, coal miner,
steel worker, bus driver, airline worker, copper miner, auto worker,
and meatpacker strikes were defeated. Union bosses sold out worker interests.
No wonder unionism today is a shadow of its former self. It's headed
for extinction without committed rank-and-file activism to save it.
On September 10, Chicago teachers walked out. At stake are rank-and-file
rights, jobs, benefits, keeping education public, the futures of Chicago
kids, the city's soul, and perhaps America's.
A previous article called Chicago America's epicenter of resistance.
It's headed for becoming its epicentral defeat. Don't blame teachers,
parents or students. They're resolute and deserve better. They're also
On September 13, the Chicago Tribune headlined "Optimism over ending
Chicago teachers strike, but no classes Friday," saying:
Both sides expressed optimism. On a 1 - 10 scale, Chicago Teachers Union
(CTU) president Karen Lewis said "I'm a 9" on reaching a deal quickly.
House of Delegates approval is required.
"We're hoping we can tighten up some of the things we talked about yesterday….and
get this thing done."
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) chief education officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett
echoed Board of Education president David Vitale's optimism. Jesse Jackson
showed up. He expressed "a sense of urgency." What he's doing to help
isn't clear. Expect little.
At 2PM Friday, over 700 House of Delegates meet. If negotiations are
completed, they'll vote up or down on ending the strike. Whether they'll
know full contract terms isn't clear. Perhaps union officials will conceal
ugly details. Full union membership has final say, but will it matter?
If strike action ends Friday, classes resume Monday. Expect another
week or so to complete rank-and-file voting. If teachers learn they've
been scammed, it may be too late to resume striking.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Vitale, and CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard
are hardline. They're all take and no give. They won't yield and resume
negotiating once current bargaining ends.
A weekend "Wisconsin-style" rally is scheduled in Union Park on Chicago's
Hope springs eternal. Teachers expressed mixed views. Some hope CTU
negotiators are bargaining hard. Others are skeptical. They have good
reason. How can major issues be settled in five days when for months
they’ve been unresolved. It's understandable that every one wants classes
What good will it do if union bosses sold out teachers, schools keep
being privatized, and kids are denied the education they deserve. All
indications suggest it.
Job security won't be strengthened. Thousands of teachers will lose
jobs. As many as 120 schools will be closed over the next five years.
Quasi-private charter ones will increase.
A Chicago Tribune editorial headline "Chicago Teacher Union fighting
the inevitability of education reform," saying:
Teachers "aren't merely fighting City Hall. They're fighting the inevitability
of education reform. They are denying the arc of history."
"They need to understand." Principles involved "are set in (federal
and state) law….They're at the heart of the Democratic education reform
agenda" under Obama's destructive Race to the Top agenda. It follows
Bush's No Child Left Behind.
Both plan public education's destruction. At stake is commodifying it,
handing it to corporate predators, and making it another business profit
center. Doing so assures destroying the futures of thousands of Chicago
kids and millions across America.
Go along union bosses should be fired, hung in effigy, then out to dry
like they're doing to parents and children.
"Don't let this arc of history get lost in all the red shirts and red-meat
speeches." Tribune bosses only care for bottom line priorities like
profiteers they represent.
Kids are to be exploited for profit, not taught. That's the bottom line
of this struggle. Reform is code language for sellout. Teachers, parents
and kids don't have a chance if union bosses betray them for their own
self-interest. All signs point that way.
They'll claim success to hide failure and betrayal. They'll say they
got the best deal possible. At issue is will teachers buy it? How will
parents react once they learn they are their children were scammed?
According to TribuneThink, the "knottiest issue in the strike is whether
Chicago will stay on the national reform path. Or will Emanuel and CPS,
under pressure to restore normalcy, cave to teacher demands….?"
They want their just due. Parents want public, not corporate run schools.
Kids want futures. Education isn't a commodity. It's a societal right.
It's workable form is headed for the trash bin of history unless heroic
efforts save it.
On September 14, the Tribune headlined "Both Sides still optimistic
as Chicago teachers strike enters 5th day," saying:
Number crunching delayed a Thursday deal. Details remain unresolved.
Lewis called discussions "ebb and flow." CTU lead attorney Robert Block
said negotiations go up and down. "There are many areas, facets to be
One CTU representative said CPS negotiators don't play fair. They're
"stopped bargaining and dug in their heels." How can teachers reach
an equitable deal without a willing partner? They have none in Emanuel
and his cronies.
Negotiations resume Friday. Plans still call for kids back in classrooms
Monday. Lewis hopes so but isn't sure. Her body language shows how much
CPS psychologist Elizabeth Chapin-Palder claims teachers are cautiously
optimistic. Why who knows when behind their backs they're being betrayed.
When they find out it'll be too late to matter unless they take matters
in their own hands and carry the fight on their own.
Chicago's Substance News editor George Schmidt provides accurate information
on issues related to city education. He forthrightly supports teachers.
They "know more about the city, its schools, and its children" than
city officials, bureaucrats, and CPS and Board of Education bosses combined.
"Will Rahm try to put out this fire with gasoline," he asked? He and
officials around him "hint darkly that the strike is 'illegal' because
teachers are talking about issues the Board refuses to allow into the
They include class size, recalling laid off veteran teachers, proper
year-round classroom temperatures, and others. They're major ones essential
for all contracts.
Vitale is a corporate bully. He's used to operate autocratically. He's
Emanuel's point man because Brizard already is widely disliked. Vitale
replicates his dark side. Daily he lost his temper with negotiators
and journalists. His arrogance grates on those around him.
He stops short of using profanity like Emanuel. "The unraveling of (Big
Money) leaders….is taking place….before the eyes of the world."
"Whether the unraveled is Vitale on camera, Emanuel fulminating behind
the scenes….or Brizard quietly collecting his enormous pay while being
told to sit down and shut up off stage, the sight is not pretty."
Emanuel apparently plans dirty tricks. He may call a legitimate walkout
illegal and end it that way. Doing so will make a bad situation worse.
Claiming 30,000 teachers are criminals doesn't wash. Hopefully they're
ready for whatever he has in mind.
They care about what's most important. They want good education for
Chicago kids. City officials have other fish to fry. Serving Chicagoans
ethically, honorably and effectively isn't on their menu. Exploiting
them is policy at high salaries.
It's not surprising that unionists and teachers call the Board of Education
a "billionaires and millionaires" club. It also holds for CPS bosses.
They earn six figure salaries. They have no teaching or administrative
Emanuel-style patronage installed them. CPS head Jean-Claude Brizard
earns a quarter million dollar salary. Rochester, NY teachers practically
ran him out of town. They banished him for wrecking city schools. Since
May 2011, he's following the same failed scheme in Chicago.
CTU officials haven't challenged him. Ebb and flow delays hardly matter.
Capitulation looks likely.
Public education is being privatized. Bottom line priorities matter
most. Teachers are expendable. Parents and kids have most to lose. It's
a sad testimony to the city of big shoulders.
Last of its saloon keeper aldermen, Paddy Bowler, was right. "Chicago
ain't ready for reform." For sure not under Emanuel and corrupt officials
A Final Comment
Friday PM reports said CPS and CTU officials reached a tentative deal.
Classes may resume Monday.
CTU attorney Robert Bloch said "talks today were very productive. We
are still continuing to work out the details of the contract, but we
are hopeful (to have) a complete agreement to present to the House of
Delegates by Sunday."
If approved, students and teachers will return Monday. Terms weren't
disclosed. Expect fine print details to reveal sellout. If Board of
Delegates don't balk, hopefully teachers will act on their own straightaway.
It's their only chance. Delay won't help.
More ahead on contract terms when they're known. Hold the cheers. Celebratory
time isn't now. Battle lines are more appropriate. This struggle has
miles to go.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized
Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
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