Monday, September 10, 2012

Chicago's teachers can strike, New York's can't

Posted By on Mon, Sep 10, 2012 at 9:33 AM

The Chicago teachers' union is on strike and, as a result, parents are trying to figure out what they should be doing with their children. The Chicago Tribune is keeping a running tab of strike news here.

This type of disruption is alien to New York parents. Like it or not, the state's public school teachers — and police, firefighters, and certain other public employees — cannot legally go on strike. It's written right into the state's Taylor Law, which governs public sector collective bargaining.

In Chicago, the teachers have a legal right to strike. The union and the district couldn't reach a contract agreement; one of the sticking points was a new teacher evaluation system. Now educators are spending their Monday on a picket line instead of in a classroom.

But the Chicago strike could become a proxy strike for teachers unions across the country. New York State United Teachers threw its support behind the Chicago teachers today. Earlier this year, NYSUT fought with New York legislators over a new statewide teacher evaluation system. NYSUT also fought against a proposal for mayoral control in Rochester's schools. There's also the fact that former Rochester schools Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard is Chicago's superintendent.

"Their fight is our fight," NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said in a statement. "Their struggle is our struggle."

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