Boston teachers weigh in on Chicago strike

Chicago Teachers Union membered picketed  Friday.
Chicago Teachers Union membered picketed Friday.

In an aggressive show of solidarity, Boston teachers took out a full-page advertisement in the Chicago Sun-Times Friday in support of their counterparts in that city, criticizing Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago for his handling of a bitter contract dispute.

At a press conference earlier this week, Emanuel said public school teachers in Boston had settled their contract dispute without a strike, unlike Chicago’s, and had accepted smaller pay raises in their recent contract settlement than Chicago teachers had been offered.

But the Boston Teachers Union bristled at the comparison, saying it ignored many ­details in the proposed settlement, reached Wednesday after more than two years of often contentious negotiations. In the advertisement, the Boston union said it had voted unanimously to support the Chicago teachers union, and took Emanuel to task.


“Thank you for mentioning our contract settlement, which came about as a result of a ­mutually respectful conversation between the parties,” the union wrote in the ad. “Perhaps you can learn from us — and begin to treat your own teaching force with the same respect.”

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The union paid $6,000 for the ad, injecting itself into a high-stakes impasse that has drawn national attention. On Friday, a resolution to the five-day Chicago strike appeared close, according to published reports. Some 350,0000 students could return to school Monday.

Richard Stutman, president of the Boston Teachers Union, said the union decided to intercede when Emanuel “publicly chastised” Chicago’s union for not accepting the city’s offer. Stutman said that Emanuel was wrong on the details of the proposed Boston settlement and that his comparison was misleading.

“We offer 100 percent support to our fellow unionists in Chicago,” Stutman said. “The ­issues they’re fighting for in Chicago are issues that are held dearly by millions of teachers around the country.”

The advertisement declared support for the Chicago union in its fight against what it called Emanuel’s “corporate-driven policies.” Emanuel’s office could not be reached for comment.


The tentative deal between the Boston teachers and the city would lead to more rigorous teacher evaluation, end the longstanding practice of automatic pay raises for all teachers, and could expedite the departure of teachers with poor job reviews.

To take effect, the school board and union members must approve the six-year deal, which would gradually boost teachers’ pay by 12 percent.

The advertisement said Emanuel’s comparison of the two negotiations was flawed. Boston teachers, it noted, did not have to negotiate for seniority-­based protections.

“To deny hard-working professionals this right is to deny that experience and training matter in educating our youngsters,” it read.

The union also said its settlement was consistent with a new state law on performance evaluation and that student test scores would just be one measure used to evaluate teachers.

Peter Schworm can be reached
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