Chicago Teachers’ Strike happened in 2012. It organized by the Chicago Teachers’ Union after the deal proposed by the new mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to meet the demands of the union. This paper will provide an analysis of this conflict.
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There was a perception of incompatible goals between the mayor and the teachers’ union. The mayor proposed a pay increase for the teachers but did not consider any of the other issues that were voiced by the teachers’ union. The union wanted to provide security to the teachers who lose jobs when a high school closes. Their list of demands was long and included such things as providing more funds for art and music education in the underfunded schools of the city, pay fairness, a lesser role of standardized tests in the student evaluation, and other issues that were not considered by the mayor. Instead, the mayor focused on the single goal of making the school day longer, which only made the conflict worse. Some of the goals were compatible after all the mayor still wanted to provide a pay increase to the teachers, however without considering the additional issues, these goals would not be met by both parties (Staff, 2017).
The scarce resources, in this case, are the funds that the mayor is willing to provide. Teachers were willing to provide a compromise by reallocating these funds from their pay increase to the programs they considered more important. On the other hand, the mayor chose to rescind his offer to the union and instead increased the salaries of CPS executives (Liebelson, 2017).
The basic goal structure of this relationship can be described by the following. The main goal for both parties is to provide a new deal for the teachers’ union. The mayor wants to focus on pay increases and longer school days, while teachers want a variety of improvements to the educational system (Liebelson, 2017). The goals are not completely competitive because both teachers and the mayor want the teachers to end their strike, and their goals are not too different from each other. In the past, their goals were mostly cooperative, with no need for strikes for over 25 years. In the present, their goals are more competitive due to the perceived anti-union attitude of the mayor (Brogan, 2014).
There is no clear power imbalance because both parties can equally affect each other. The mayor is the one holding all the resources, but with the teachers on strike, he is unable to provide education to the city, which is essential for his position. Chicago Teachers’ Union sees its power as finite due to the restrictions the mayor was able to put in place the year prior. However, it is unlikely that the mayor would be able to impose new restrictions while the strike is happening. The mayor’s main power currency is money and ability to legislate. The power currency of the teachers is their service that cannot be replaced while the strike is happening. These are different currencies, but their value is equal (Brogan, 2014).
This conflict brought a lot of media attention to itself and led to a discussion of educational reform. With both sides unwilling to make a move and many actions that made the negotiation process harder, it lasted for ten days, leaving the city without public schools for almost two weeks. This example shows the importance of considering the needs and compromises provided by the opposition.
Brogan, P. (2014). Getting to the core of the Chicago Teachers’ Union transformation. Studies in Social Justice, 8(2), 145-164.
Liebelson, D. (2017). What happened with the Chicago teacher strike, explained. Web.
Staff, P. (2017). Union strikes and dispute resolution strategies. Web.