Chicago Teachers Strike: A Lesson Of “Excessive Zeal And No Brains”

By Russ Pohl,

On September 10, 2012, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) walked out of the city’s public schools after negotiations fell through with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the school district. The issues surrounding the negotiations between the city and the teachers involved reforms to pay increases and teacher evaluations. As of now, no contract agreement has been finalized, but recent developments have showed signs of an impending end to the strike.

If lessons can be learned from history, then the 1987 Chicago Teachers Strike provides a good example as what to expect from the aftermath of the strike.

On September 8, 1987, negotiations regarding teacher salaries between the Chicago Board of Education and the CTU fell through and a strike was declared. The CTU initially proposed a 10 percent pay increase, while the Chicago Board of Education proposed a 1.7 percent pay cut and shortening of the school year by three days. The Board of Education balked, saying the demands made by the CTU were unrealistic, because an extra $100 million would need to be raised that year along with another $50 million the following year to fund their request for pay raises.

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