Accelify Blog

Chicago Teachers Union Tweaks Emanuel (IL)

April 15, 2011

The Chicago Teachers Union jabbed at Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel on Thursday over education reforms pending in Springfield, a sign that upcoming talks on a new contract might not be easy.

The changes would require that 75 percent of union members approve a strike and allow Chicago Public Schools leaders to lengthen the time kids are in school without having to negotiate. Unions still could bargain over additional pay or benefits if more time is added.

The teachers union supports the measure, but its president, Karen Lewis, tried to portray the breakthrough as a loss for Emanuel.

“Mr. Emanuel came to Springfield looking to tack on two hours to the school day and two weeks to the school year without pay,” Lewis said in a statement. “But all he got was language.”

Emanuel has advocated for a longer school day and year, tying teacher tenure to performance evaluations, requiring that layoffs not rely strictly on seniority, and raising the threshold for strikes.

The mayor-elect largely got what he wanted in the legislation. Emanuel has never specified how much longer the school day or school year should be, just that they be extended.

Emanuel worked the phones with lawmakers as talks zeroed in on Chicago particulars. The mayor-in-waiting weighed in because he will have to live with what is decided. His spokesman declined comment when asked about Lewis’ remark Thursday.

The union’s jab comes against the backdrop of contract negotiations that are likely to begin by the end of summer. The current deal expires June 30, 2012.