Keeping retirement weird. Winning.


“Let me get a picture with Klonsky. He writes the best f—ing blog.”

CTU President Karen Lewis spoke to us yesterday in the most serious of tones. Which was appropriate for this moment. For Chicago, Illinois and the country, these are serious times.

Sometimes you feel alone. Then it is like yesterday in Chicago. You gather in the thousands in what was way more than a labor rally. I’ve been at plenty of those, so I can just feel the difference.

In spite of the seriousness of the moment, everyone has a smile on their face.

Except for the plain clothes cop who is standing ahead of the guy ahead of me.

Even in plain clothes the cop was standing out like a Rabbi in a sea of nuns.

He was keeping a close lookout at the kid with the hand-made sign that said, “I care about my teachers rights!”

The kid was clearly an anarchist in the early stages of development. Bust him now.

I have heard a lot of debate about the tactic of a one-day walkout over the past couple of weeks. I have participated in that debate myself, changing sides more frequently than I change my t-shirt.

Tactics are the things you debate. Even if you are not a member of the CTU, and so your opinion is not much more than, well, an opinion.

Tactics are all about winning. But even what counts as winning is complicated.

For Chicago teachers there is their contract. Yet, they have clearly made their contract fight into something more than compensation and working conditions.

And so have those in power, like Governor Rauner.

“It’s shameful that Chicago’s children are the victims in this raw display of political power.  Walking out on kids in the classroom, leaving parents in the lurch and thumbing their nose at taxpayers — it’s the height of arrogance from those we’ve entrusted with our children’s futures.  By breaking the law in Chicago and forcing passage of a bad law in Springfield, powerful bosses are proving they have an unfair advantage over Illinois families.  When we lose the balance between taxpayers and special interests, property taxes go up and the quality of education goes down.”

From my experience, there is truth in what the Governor said.

Powerful bosses do have an unfair advantage over Illinois families.

Winning is also about building a movement to change the advantage.

There are moments when I have been bargaining – even when we were on strike – that it seemed that there is no way we were going to win the thing, let alone get any agreement.

Then there is this moment. As if there was a sudden chemical reaction. And everything changes.

Moments before, everyone is serious.

But you look around at your side of the table and everyone knows what just happened and everyone is smiling.

3 Replies to “Keeping retirement weird. Winning.”

  1. I came down from Skokie because the health of the City impacts the suburbs as well. The energy was different than any other rally. How about the senior from Lincoln Park HS? What an incredible young lady!

  2. “Let me get a picture with Klonsky. He writes the best f—ing blog”:
    Why does Fred write the “best f—ing blog”? Because Fred Klonsky’s blog is interesting and relevant; because Fred Klonsky searches for the truth that the media ignore; because Fred Klonsky is resourceful and responsible; because Fred Klonsky’s editorials are of public interest; because Fred Klonsky does not ignore the disenfranchised among us; because Fred Klonsky is not a pawn of the privileged elite; because Fred Klonsky’s rebuttals to the fools that comment on his blog are engaging, witty and humorously sarcastic; because Fred Klonsky’s viewpoint improves the quality of our most significant public debates; because Fred Klonsky stimulates our moral conscience and encourages all of us to question social and political injustices in our lives…

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