18 Nov 2022


Teachers on Strike: Lessons From Chicago on How to Fight Back

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Employees work hard for the growth and success of an organization and without them, businesses cannot succeed, patients would not be treated, and children would not have schools to attend. Therefore, the public and private employees deserve to be served with respect. In most public institutions, employees support and are members of unions that represent their grievances to the management. To best serve employees organizational leaders must perceive the advantages of creating collective work administration connections and effectively work to encourage their surbodinates. Currently, most employees are aware of unions and their benefits and how to be associated with them in the right manner. Conflicts between labor and management continue to rise due to productivity issues, low wages, among other employee benefits. 

Chicago Teachers Strike 

In 1981, the United States air traffic controllers left their workplaces and went for a demonstration that left them jobless since the president fired all the striking workers. The act attracted attention to public sector workers, and as a result, they formed and joined unions that would act as their voices in times of need (Young, 2012). In the context of an educational reform movement, teachers formed the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) that would represent them in the country. The CTU arranged for a work stoppage in September 2012 that united 26,000 teachers across the nation to successfully battle a proposal that wanted teachers to stay longer in schools without a pay rise. Another proposal demanded that teachers should be paid according to the level of the student's grades and that standardized test should be introduced in the school curriculum. In addition, other proposals had been raised with an objective to debilitate the professional stability and voice of the city educators (Young, 2012) . 

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The teachers union of Chicago set a collective bargaining agreement that it intended to impose across the state. The teachers union believes that they are faced with a huge responsibility of educating children who become prominent people in the country. Therefore, the union demanded a fair and equitable contract that would help all the teachers deliver quality content to the students. The CTU represented not only the teachers but also health practitioners, social workers as well as paraprofessionals. The union demanded a pay rise and other benefits which were linked to issues of concern to students and parents. At the end of the eight days strike, conclusions were that the teachers should be given a pay rise 0f 17% over the next four years (Young, 2012). 

The Road to Victory 

Mayor Emanuel wanted to strip the teachers a few of their benefits, but this was not to happen as the union stood in the gap and negotiated its way out. The mayor and the union were unable to come to terms, and it was then that a strike was organized. Research indicates that following a national poll concerning the strike, statistics show that 66% of parents supported the strike. Moreover, the majority of citizens blamed the management and the Mayor. The teachers went on a strike, and not even the House of Delegates could suspend it. After eight days the strike was called off after an agreement was reached (Young, 2012) 

The most important thing about the strike is that the teachers emerged as the winning team after issuing out their grievances, forcing the town mayor to give ground on the main demands. The teacher’s victory was a big deal in America since the teachers had been able to defeat a prominent person in the country making him stoop low considering he was the president’s, right-hand man. The victory was not for the teachers alone but included the teacher’s supporters and their union. Moreover, this was a great turning point for the labor especially that it was on the defensive side (Young, 2012) . 

War on Unions 

The teachers union of Chicago is not supported by everyone thus the attacks on teachers are primarily directed to the union. Ethan states that the Republican legislators are not to the idea of the unions thus try to eliminate it by pushing for anti-union laws. Moreover, corporate power brokers have also sought to stop the rise of unions. Certain rules have been imposed that only allow employees to join internal unions. Despite all the challenges that unions have faced, they have stood firm to perform their duties. 

There are claims that government workers are more advantaged than the private sector workers. Other people argue that the public sector workers gain at the expense of the less privileged private workers, an issue that has seen the public sectors being attacked by anti-labor movements. According to Young (2012) the government has measures of equality and treats its workers parallel to the private ones. Federal workers should thus not be attached at any cost since their services are essential to any country. Besides, Union growth should be encouraged, and more workers should join. Young’s article supports the unions throughout and gives the readers every reason to support unions. In fact Young celebrate the victory of the teachers union and criticize the mayor’s defeat. 

Effects of the Strike 

During and after the teachers strike in Chicago, students, parents and the community experienced both short and long term effects. The Chicago teachers strike that saw the teachers winning, and they were able to go back to the classroom with a happy smile. The teachers felt motivated and became confident in moving forward. Although the teachers and the school administrators may not agree on some issues, they will all experience a real education reform. In addition, the strike created a platform where the government could address problems in the learning institutions in America and the way forward (Jones, 2013). 

The teachers will have a meaningful evaluation system because they were granted the permission to make their lesson plans that they thought would impact the student positively. The students also benefitted from the system that proved to be more effective in their learning especially the college student who would have enough time to prepare for advanced placement tests. According to Jones (2013) most students in learning institutions are not ready for their careers meaning that the education system is not effective. The teachers strike created opportunities for members of the public, educators, and policymakers to air their views and the challenges facing schools in America. Besides, the teachers demonstrated to their students and the world the power of unity since they went for peaceful demonstrations together to fight for their rights and professions. 

The CTU were able to secure a proverbial seat in the government whereby they present their grievances and the challenges facing the teachers and other public sector workers. The position has made the union to be recognized by the public members who believe are represented in the government. 


In the modern word, a person is either self–employed, an employee or the boss. Conflicts between labor and management have spanned for centuries across the globe. There might be consequences involved when labor and management fail to form stable relationships. Therefore, it is evidently clear that collaboration is a powerful tool that should be used in the labor-management relationship. Unions and most organizations share common goals, hence, should focus on ways to achieve them through open discussions and decision-making on issues that affect them. 


Jones, M. (2013). Give and take: The Chicago teachers union strike and its local and national impact. Public Interest Law Reporter 18 (2), 126-131. 

Young, E. (2012). Teachers on strike: Lessons from Chicago on how to fight back. Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung , New York Office pp. 1-12. 

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