|Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons|
Teachers who participated in the recent 10-day strike in Chicago saw smaller October 5 paychecks. Some received no pay at all. Yet the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), which did not extend strike benefits to the teachers, continued to collect full dues from them, according to the WSWS.
While many hailed the strike as a victory, noting that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) dropped its demand for merit pay and did give the teachers a raise, the new contract accepts student test scores as a substantial portion of teachers’ evaluations. Considering that these test scores have little to do with teacher quality and that they provide unreliable and inconsistent data, they have no place at all in teacher evaluations. The new contract also accepts a longer school day without compensating teachers fully for the extra time they will be required to work.
According to the WSWS, the CTU told members they “will pay a temporary penalty this week . . . For now, however, they will continue their sacrifice in defense of quality public education, as they draw from the savings they set aside in preparation for the strike.” The CTU also told members they “may” be eligible for personal loans from the United Credit Union. During the strike, instead of offering strike pay, the union’s parent organization, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), offered low-interest loans.
It is noteworthy that the Chicago teachers went on strike at all and that they were initially opposing the corporate reform agenda, including merit pay and the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers. It was particularly significant because unions have all but given up labor actions such as strikes as a means of achieving their goals, focusing more and more on lobbying and political campaign funding, which are far more expensive and less effective than job actions. It is interesting, but sad, to observe that the AFT was unwilling to support the Chicago strike or to use members’ dues to provide strike pay, yet they readily coughed up $31 million on electoral campaigns last year.