Wednesday, October 12, 2016

No strike for Chicago school teachers! No pennant (not yet) for the Cubs

Believe it or not, something positive was happening in the early hours of Tuesday – even though I’m sure that segment of our city’s society determined to root for the Chicago Cubs thinks it was a miserable time.
LEWIS: Reached a late-night deal w/ schools

The Chicago Teachers Union was actually reaching an agreement with the Chicago Public Schools toward a new contract for public school faculty.

TUESDAY HAD BEEN the strike date previously set, meaning there was a good chance that this would have been the day in which we’d have to endure the sight of teachers walking the picket line, union President Karen Lewis taking the name of Rahm Emanuel in vain, and parents trying to figure out what to do with their kids while they go to work.

Which I’m sure would have added to the sense of depression that the Cubs-fan segment of our city would have felt; after seeing the would-be heroics of Jake Arietta and Kris Bryant erased in what became a 6-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants that meant the Cubs would have to wait a day or two before seeing if they advance in the National League playoffs.

It really was a surprise moment – the teachers deciding not to take to the picket lines, that is. I had braced myself for the thought of outraged labor rhetoric to be spewed in coming days as long-lasting tensions would come pouring out.

Heck, it was around 10 p.m. that Lewis was making public statements saying we should expect the worst to happen. Only for the decision to be made about Midnight that the sides were close enough that there would be no need for picket lines – or a strike.

OF COURSE, UNION officials made it be known that the agreement was merely a “tentative” one, meaning that things could still fall apart.

“A tentative agreement is not a final contract,” union officials said in a midnight statement. “Every active member of the Chicago Teachers Union will have an opportunity to review and vote on the agreement before a contract is ratified.”
EMANUEL: Mayor spared aggravation

It wasn’t sure when the union’s House of Delegates, then the full union, would take the votes that would formally approve a contract on their part.

But it ought to give us a sigh of relief that we’re not going to have to endure the rigors of a teachers’ strike in Chicago – which would have caused so many frayed tempers and I’m sure would have given pleasure to no one.

EXCEPT MAYBE DONALD Trump, who would have gleefully used it as a rhetorical excuse to bash us about some more. Heck, it’s not like anyone here was going to vote for the goober. What does he have to lose?

For the record, the agreement is for a four-year contract, meaning that Emanuel will be able to get through the rest of his current mayoral term without having labor strife from the teachers’ union. He can focus on all the other entities that want to demean him for their own various reasons.

The offer includes cost-of-living increases of 2 percent and 2.5 percent in the two final years of the deal, and does not require teachers to pay a larger share to cover the cost of their eventual pensions. Although people hired to teach in the Chicago Public Schools in the future will have to pay a larger share of their pensions. Which I’m sure they view as a problem to deal with in the future, so long as the current faculty are protected.

Money to cover the cost of the slight pay raise and pension expenses will come from tax increment finance district funds made available by the city, which Cook County Clerk David Orr said was "a short-term fix" and that, "City Hall continues to dodge a fundamental problem with TIFs."

FOR HIS PART, Emanuel acted pleased, particularly by the fact he won’t have all those p-o’ed parents to deal with. “Students across Chicago will be in school this morning and on the path to a stronger and brighter future,” the mayor told reporter-types Tuesday morning at City Hall.
The source of Wrigleyville's aggravation Tuesday

That part about “stronger and brighter” might be a touch of exaggeration. But I don’t doubt the sincerity of pleasure at not having the Chicago schools in the national attention because of a teachers’ strike.

Who knows? It may even turn out that not having to deal with a strike will help some of those Cubs fan-types of people deal with the fact their favorite ball club didn’t clinch its spot Monday in the next round of the National League playoffs – even though they jumped out to an early lead with that Arietta home run.

And now, the schoolchildren of Chicago will be able to discuss Monday night’s victory in the schoolyards of the city – that is, if they were even capable of staying up that late on a school night, just to watch a ball game.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Hopefully, by now you've figured out where to find Channel FS1. Otherwise known as Fox Sports on your cable television lineup. And if you haven't keep in mind that maybe you're being spared much anguish watching ballgames like the one Monday night.

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