Friday, May 8, 2015

Emanuel/Lewis could get U-G-L-Yer; could Chuy reputation be the winner?

The smartaleck in me wonders if Jesus Garcia is getting miffed that the contract talks by the Chicago Public Schools and the teacher’s union didn’t get heated up prior to Election Day.

Because with the way the two sides are showing that it will take a political miracle for them to agree on a deal, I wonder if that could have been enough of a factor get get Garcia’s mayoral aspirations the additional votes to close what was a 56-44 percent gap in the electoral turnout.

NOT THAT I think any of the people who wound up voting for Rahm Emanuel’s re-election could have been swayed into backing Garcia’s mayoral campaign. But could it have motivated more of the roughly three-fifths of registered voters who didn’t bother to vote to take some sort of action?

Could we now be dealing with “Mayor-elect Jesus Garcia” if the contract talks had become more of an issue prior to April 7?

That thought popped into my mind this week when I learned that the Chicago Teachers Union filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.

It seems the Chicago Public Schools has asked the teachers to take a pay cut, supposedly to avoid the possibility of layoffs. The union has called that pay cut proposal an insult.

THE PAY CUT is allegedly necessary to come up with the money the district needs to cover a larger share of the cost of covering pension payments for teacher retirement programs – supposedly a 7 percent cut in the amount of paychecks the teachers currently receive.

It’s coming across that the Chicago Public Schools wants help from its labor in terms of addressing the financial problems that now face District 299 (a.k.a., the city’s public schools system).

The current contract expires June 30, but I don’t think there’s anybody out there who expects the two sides to suddenly come to terms and meet that deadline.

We’re likely to see continued talks throughout the summer months, then the possibility of wondering if the schools will open on time (and stay open) for the 2015-16 academic year.

BECAUSE THE TWO sides have had several sessions dating back to November, yet there doesn’t seem to be anything in the way of progress. The Emanuel mayoral administration is likely go to into the local history books as the one that continually provokes strikes from its teachers.

Unlike the Richard M. Daley administration that managed to go for decades without labor disputes.

Now I can already hear the rants of certain types of people (the ones who think the City Council was disrespectful to Gov. Bruce Rauner by immediately passing their anti-turnaround measure after the governor urged them to support it) who are going to claim that the unions ARE the problem and that we’d all be better off if we’d realize that employers should be able to give us what they think is proper.

But this desire to advance oneself and look out for our interests IS the “American Way,” so to speak.

I CAN’T REALLY fault the teachers union officials who are following the lead of union President Karen Lewis, who this week said she believed the public schools’ negotiating tactics are “reactionary and retaliatory” for past grievances.

Even though I’m sure some people would argue they are merely examples of Rahm being Rahm. And I mean the overly-profane Emanuel; not the nice, soft, fuzzy Rahm who tried creeping up in the campaign commercials while talking about how incompetent a person Garcia is.

Well, Election Day is past. We have the officials we have. Those people who care about Garcia’s future are likely to focus on the talk that he will run for something (most likely a Congressional seat) come the 2016 election cycle.

Although I do wonder if he could wind up getting a boost in such a campaign if the teacher contract talks do wind up resulting in picket lines for a second time in four years. Sort of a “Who’s not qualified now?” type of vote for Chuy against whomever he winds up challenging!


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