Chicago Teacher Union Strike Essay

In case of a conflict arises, each side is tempted to make unilateral decisions on important issues since they believe negotiations will hit a wall. The 2011 Chicago teachers’ strike made headlines that shifted the fight over public education. This labor strike was the first in over 25 years, and it was not only focused on wages but also insisted on maintaining the existing health benefits and standardized testing. In any conflict, there must be wins, losses, and draws; this was also the case with the Chicago teachers strike outcomes as the teachers and the union came out as the biggest winners.

The educators felt disrespected and they blamed the mayor for failing to come up with a lasting solution before the work stoppage. Mitt Romney, the Democrat’s elected candidate for presidency stated that the teachers were on strike because their interests have always conflicted with what is best with the children in public schools. According to Davey (2012), the main contentious issue that has led to the strike is the 16% pay increase for the educators in a span of four years. The mayor and political leaders opposed the pay hike since it would have resulted in $1 billion deficit by the financial year 2012/2013. The other challenging matters involved the instructor’s evaluation method and automatically assigning new job openings to laid-off educators.

The teachers expressed joy for securing concession that limited the school reform program that would cost teachers their jobs and harm students. Altogether, educators gained nationwide attention, which got them a more favorable deal than the school system (Staff, 2018). The deal included a ratified membership by the union and salary increase by 16% while stripping out the merit pay program that emphasized salary to be based on the students’ scores. Also, the teachers managed to hold a line on the rise in health insurance while protecting pay increases for instructors based on factors such as teacher’s training days and expertise level.

On the other hand, the union also had some wins in providing laid-off teachers with improved opportunities as proposed by the district officials, protection from supervisors’ intimidation and control over their jobs. However, it was not all a bed of roses since the union suffered from salary compromise and additional school days. Also, the mayor did not walk away empty handed since his proposition of the evaluation of teachers based on the scores of students was accepted (Pearson, 2012). In spite of getting this deal, the teachers claimed that the system attached too much importance to students’ performance and the behavior of learners to be out of the control of the directors. All hopes remain that the new program will redirect the purpose to one that is well structured.

It is evident that strikes are not the way to solving problems; however, sometimes it remains the only solution after other forms of peaceful negotiations hit a bottomless pit. In the case of the Chicago teachers strike, the teachers were unhappy with the program and wanted a change. After a seven day strike, a solution was found that benefited most of the parties and mostly the students. Despite some of the teachers not agreeing with the changes, it is clear that the bill will pass. The strike acted as an opportunity for the teachers and other people to have their voices heard, and clearly, the education sector is heading in the right direction

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Davey, M. (2012, September 10). Teachers’ strike in Chicago tests mayor and union. The New York Times. Retrieved from
Pearson, M. (2012, September 19). Wins, losses and draws in Chicago school strike. The New York Times. Retrieved from
Staff, P. (2018, June 28). Union strikes and dispute resolution strategies. Harvard Daily Retrieved from