Teachers in the major US city of Chicago are planning to go on strike following the failure of their negotiations with city officials.
Over 25,000 Chicago teachers will walk off their jobs Monday morning and start picketing at their school sites.
The move comes after talks between Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) failed on Sunday to resolve concerns over the teachers’ pay and job security.
US President Barack Obama and his Democratic Party continue to depend on labor unions to help them win the vote; however, the teacher strike in Obama’s hometown is certain to affect the votes.
In the clash over the contract between the CTU and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, US President Barack Obama’s former White House Chief of Staff and a major fundraiser for his presidential campaign, the two sides have forcefully campaigned for public opinion as the city braces for the first teacher strike in 25 years.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Allen Roland, online columnist from Sonoma, to further discuss the issue. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Does the news of the Teachers Union strike in Chicago, the first in 25 years, come as a surprise to you? --Or did you see the new system for evaluating teachers, and the new way to pay them, as unfair from the get-go?
Let me put it this way. This is a corporatocracy in action. This is a big deal.
Chicago teachers work an average of 58 hours a week. The national average is about 53. They want smaller class sizes. They actually want more of a liberal curriculum, and they want fair pay.
This is a big showdown with Emanuel, the power broker in Chicago, and the union because what they want, what Obama wants, and Emanuel wants is to get rid of almost 50 percent of the teachers, dismantle the public school system and higher non-unionized teachers.
This is a big battle with the union and it’s going to end up being very embarrassing for the Obama administration.
Do you see any breakthrough or is this the beginning of the worst to come?
Let’s put it this way, Obama does not want to be embarrassed in what is turning out to be a very, very close election, and I’m sure he’ll try to get Emanuel to settle.
Emanuel is a bulldog. He loves the power. He loves the power in the White House. He loves playing powerbroker in Chicago, and he’s not about to back down. It’s going to end up being very embarrassing for both Emanuel and Obama.
The teachers are irate because this is really about unions and union busting. This is a big deal. It’s going across the country in some ways. But it’s about charter schools and it’s about getting rid of teachers and tying into a totally digitized computer system in which everything is done by testing.
I don’t think it’s going to be successful. I think the teachers are going to prevail because they have the upper hand.