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Rahm Tells Teachers: Don't Strike, 'Be Part of the Solution'

By Ted Cox | August 10, 2016 1:10pm | Updated on August 12, 2016 10:50am
"I want the teachers to be part of the solution," says Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

WEST TOWN — Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday called on the Chicago Teachers Union to "be part of the solution" and not strike this fall.

"I want the teachers to be part of the solution," Emanuel said at a news conference in West Town. "Chicago taxpayers have stepped up to be part of the solution," with an upcoming $250 million increase in property taxes.

Pointing out that the state had increased Chicago education funding in its stopgap budget bill this year, and insisting Chicago Public Schools had made cuts in its bureaucracy, Emanuel added, "Everybody else has been part of that. They need to be part of that as well."

Teachers railed at the CPS budget unveiled Friday which cuts $232 million in spending and immediately threatened a strike. District officials say it contains a series of pay hikes but requires teachers to make an additional 7 percent pension contribution.

Emanuel said that this time, unlike in the last strike in 2012, teachers may not have the same public support.

"I know where the public is," Emanuel said. "They're proud of the academic success our kids are making. ... The public expects and wants them to be part of it."

Emanuel insisted that education funding and the fiscal solvency of teacher pensions go hand in hand, saying, "I believe we can strengthen the classroom and strengthen our teachers' pensions," but only if they avoid a strike to open the school year.

The Chicago Teachers Union did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But on Friday, teachers union president Karen Lewis described members as "very upset," adding "they do not want to work for less."

"Where's this mentality that 'Springfield did this and the board did that, so now it's your turn to work harder and longer, and get less for it?' I think that's unreasonable to even ask," Lewis said.


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