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Life in Rahm’s Chicago. Did someone say no teacher strike? And what will charter teachers do?

July 31, 2012

Rahm seems always to be trying to convince himself that there won’t be a teacher strike this coming school year.

He thought he had it nailed down with Senate Bill 7. But the 98% strike authorization vote disabused him of that.

Then he tried to spin his failure to get the CTU to agree to a longer work day for its members as meaning there would be no strike.

He seemed to forget there is still a collective bargaining agreement that is still unsigned.

WBEZ’s ace education reporter Linda Lutton notes that the two sides are still far apart on wages and benefits.

And the CTU has said nothing about removing the possibility of a strike.

Lutton suggests an interesting new dynamic.

No big school system that includes so many school buildings that are split between regular and charter schools has faced a strike before.

Union official Jackson Potter says he does not see the 50,000 charter kids in classes as a threat. He points to a Chicago Tribune poll that found parents trusted the unions reform proposals more than the school district’s.

“We have a rich history in this city of parents taking on the Board of Education when they think there’s injustice,” says Potter.

Potter says the union is fighting for more than just wages—it wants air conditioning, playgrounds, and social services for kids, and he thinks parents understand that.

And far from talking about charter school teachers as scabs, Potter is looking to build bridges between the union and charters.

“There’s a lot of solidarity that I don’t think people recognize or understand,” says Potter. “I think we could see a number of interesting scenarios, where charter teachers are picketing with us, where charter teachers are talking about what rights they don’t have, and what rights they want, and thinking about ways to organize these buildings so that they’re not treated with disrespect.”

One thing all sides agree on: unions and charter advocates across the country will be watching.

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