Barring a dramatic shift, more than 800 Chicago Public Schools employees, many of them dues-paying Chicago Teachers Union members, will be without jobs when schools open in the fall.
But CTU, having collected more than $1,000 in dues per year from these people before pricing them out of their jobs, has made plans to help them out. The union is sponsoring an Emergency Resource Summit on July 1, where laid-off teachers will get help applying for unemployment insurance and state assistance with housing, retraining or medical services.
It’s sad to see CTU referring its members to the government for help when, with a bit less confrontation and more pragmatism, many of those teachers and staff could have continued working for the school system, paying their own rent and taking advantage of health insurance provided by the school district. If the union had been more realistic about economic conditions in Chicago, more buildings would have been kept open, and more teachers would have jobs. CTU could have accepted an across-the-board pay cut of up to 13 percent, and its members would still be better paid than those in most big-city school districts. Instead, it demanded hefty pay raises from a district that was staring at a $1 billion deficit. The union eventually got raises exceeding 17 percent over four years, but that only made the school system’s financial situation worse.
This is the bitter fruit of politically radicalized and economically misinformed union leadership: teachers reduced to dependency on welfare, facilitated by the same union that recklessly forced them out of their jobs.
Paul Kersey is Director of Labor Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute