Mayor Rahm Emanuel attempted to end the Chicago Teachers Union strike by asking a judge to order the teachers back to work. Judge Peter Flynn (who coincidentally I’ve had a case in front of before) responded by saying, “not today.” The injunction Emanuel seeks is predicated on an Illinois state law that prevents strikes over non-economic issues. While the current strike does indirectly involve pay (Chicago is increasing teacher pay by less than the teachers wanted and are being asked to work longer hours) the Union is quick to tell the media that teacher evaluations and school conditions have more to do with the decision to strike than pay.
Emanuel’s strategy is brilliantly cruel. Demonize teachers as greedy, wait for them to defend themselves as unconcerned with money, then take them to court. Trademark Rahm Emanuel.
This should serve as a wake-up call to union leaders to recognize that there can be legal as well as political impacts to messaging.