Teachers strike pits Rahm against organized labor

September 17, 2012 2:50:04 PM PDT
For the Chicago Teachers Union members and supporters who demonstrated on City Hall's fifth floor Monday, the mayor's attempt for an injunction to end the strike removed any notion that Rahm Emanuel was a friend of organized labor.

"I can tell you that injunctions have been used over the past century only as a union-busting tool to suppress the democratic right to strike," said Steven Ashby, Teacher Solidarity Campaign.

As news that the mayor took the union to court spreads, UIC Professor Dick Simpson says any aspiration on the part of Democrat Emanuel for national office may have been damaged beyond repair.

"You can't run for president in the Democratic Party if the labor unions are against you. And after this week, the labor unions are against Rahm Emanuel," said Simpson.

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin was lukewarm on the Emanuel administration's legal strategy to end the strike.

"I'd rather see them do it outside the courtroom," said Durbin.

But Durbin said pundits should not over-rate the walkout's impact beyond Chicago.

"This is not a national or international issue," said Durbin. "It gets right down to the neighborhoods and the kids. They need to go back to school."

Others compare Emanuel's high-profile dispute with the CTU to Republican Governor Scott Walker's confrontation with unions in Wisconsin.

"When the money runs out, the unions are going to side with their own interests," said John Tillman, Illinois Policy Institute, a conservation think tank.

Tillman says the CTU has Emanuel is on the political ropes.

"The unions have won almost every aspect of this negotiation so far. We'll see how it ends up, but so far the unions are winning and the mayor continues to look weaker and weaker which is why he's now asking for a judge to help him out because he has no power," said Tillman.

Neither the mayor nor the city law department had any comment on the judge's decision not to rule Monday on the injunction. It could be a moot point should the CTU's House of Delegates vote to end the strike Tuesday.


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