Thankfully, I am not a resident of the Chicago area, and so I have paid minimal attention to the recently started School Teachers Strike. With me being a manager of union employees, and my wife's position as a nurse making her a union member we tend to avoid discussions about unions. It's one of those topics where we realize we each have our own opinions, and life is easier/sweeter if we just don't talk about whether or not unions are forces of good or evil.
The answer, like all answers, is somewhere in the middle. Unions do some good(although my opinion is not as much good as they once did), while Unions as a business are pure evil. Pure Evil.
I was finally bored enough today that I read a story a friend of mine on facebook posted about the School Teachers strike, and the 7 issues that were really a factor in this strike. For coming from Fox Business, it reads as a fairly 'fair and balanced'(no really!) statement of facts and figures.
This might come as a surprise, but most of the debate comes down to money! The teachers union wants more money for union members(which means more union dues to pay union managements salaries), and the State of Illinois, and City of Chicago don't have that more money.
I found some of the numbers in the article mind blowing. The Chicago School District is facing a $665 MILLION deficit for the upcoming school year. Hell...I didn't know the total budget was that high, let alone they could be upside down by that amount(the 2010-11 operating budget for CPS was $5.282 BILLION, a number so big it makes my brain melt. By comparison, you could run the STATE of Rhode Island for $7.7 BILLION in 2012).
Currently the mean salary for an elementary school teacher in Chicago is $61,790, and $69,470 for a high school teacher. That is without a 4% pay raise that the city was unable to afford to give teachers last year. Now the teachers want that 4% for the next 4 years, while the state is offering 3& the first year, than 2% the 3 years after that. Under the state plan a high school teacher would make $76,000 a year. Under the unions plan, it would be $81,270.
I guess our days of a teacher being able to complain about making 35K a year are gone...at least in the big city. Big City = Big Union = Big Money.
Grrrr. This is without even getting into the additional teachers that would need to be hired to reduce class sizes, or the 500 teachers Rahm has already agreed to hire to extend classroom time 90 minutes a day in elementary schools.
I'm kind of interested to see how this goes. It's a big strike, and it can have a pretty huge impact on the expectations other major school districts have on their new contracts in the future.