“What the CTU Strike Teaches Us about the Fight for a Better World” was a featured theme of last month’s Midwest Marxist Conference, held at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. (Document link was available here, but apparently the Chicago Socialists site is down. As of this posting, the document can be accessed here.)
The conference notice insisted, “Chicago teachers…refused to give in to Rahm Emanuel’s attack on labor and public education. Instead, they built solidarity with community activists against racism and inequality.”
We’ll recall that Mayor Emanuel struck a deal in August to hire nearly 500 more Chicago teachers in non-core subjects from a pool of laid off teachers to lengthen the school day (artificially) without adding hours to teachers’ work days. Never mind that the deal added some $50 million to the Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) $665 million budget hole—not to mention the $338 million in pension back payments it still owes.
As for the mayor’s “attack” on “public” education, what he actually said was, “I will not accept our children continuing to get the shaft.” Specifically, “Fifty percent of our kids graduate. Scores haven’t moved.”
The Marxist conference notice also states that the CTU’s “nine-day strike drove back the school privatization agenda & showed the way for a democratic, fighting union to take on the bosses and politicians of either party.”
Democratic? The average Chicago teacher earns $76,450, nearly a third more than the typical private sector worker in the surrounding Cook County. Teachers can retire at age 60 with an annual pension equal to 75 percent of their highest average salary.
In this proletariat gone mad, this means a teacher who retired in 2010 after 30 years of service receives a starting annual pension of $60,000 with continuous annual raises. Who pays for this generosity? Mostly private-sector workers for whom retirement at age 60 is a utopian pipe dream.