How the Teachers’ Union Robbed Chicago, Again

Writing at National Review, Joshua Culling looks at the details of the Chicago teachers deal: During the Democratic National Convention I wrote about a clear contrast between the policies of Illinois natives Barack Obama and Pat Quinn, and their Wisconsin counterparts, Paul Ryan and Scott Walker. We now have another anti-reformer to add to the Illinois column: Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. The seven-school-day Chicago Teachers Union strike was extensively covered across the country, as teachers walked out of the classroom after rejecting a deal with the city that would have paid them 16 percent more over four years, coupled with a slightly greater weighting of student performance in teacher evaluations. So far as I could tell, the union’s choice was overwhelmingly portrayed in a negative light, with even the New York Times editorial page calling the strike “unnecessary,” positing that union president Karen Lewis “seem[ed] to be basking in the power of having shut down the school system.” It was an opportunity for Emanuel to take a politically popular stand against union largesse while winning serious reforms for his city’s beleaguered budget. It is sad but true that when Democratic leaders push back against unions, they are applauded for moderation, or at least left alone by observers in the media. In 2011, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick and an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature curbed collective bargaining to little fanfare. At the same time, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker pursued a similar path in Madison, but faced thousands of union protesters at his doorstep and the wrath of the New York Times and MSNBC.