I-Team

Is the teachers strike legal?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

With many questions in a labor dispute, the answer to whether this is an illegal strike depends on which side you ask. The only answer of consequence, however, would come from a judge, if the strike actually went to court.

Many of the problem-issues that teachers union officials say triggered this strike have nothing to do with pay or benefits.

Under Illinois' Educational Labor Act, teachers may strike only for certain matters subject to negotiations; wages, hours, other terms and conditions of employment; specifically the law states that teacher performance is not to be the subject of negotiation or a strike and teacher evaluation is one of the major strike issues.

From day one on Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said that the strike issues cited by teachers are not allowed under state law.

"It's very possible that the mayor is right and likely right that this is very much an illegal strike," said John Tillman, Illinois Policy Institute. "They are allowed to strike on economic issues but not non economic issues and we think the mayor should hold them to account for that."

The union and its members read the same law differently and claim they are striking legally.

If Mayor Emanuel was to press a legal case, it would begin with a complaint to the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board; then possibly a trip to Cook county court. Something the mayor said Wednesday he wants to avoid.

"I believe we should see it through at the table and that is why our team is there and working through all those issues," he said. "My goal is to get this done the appropriate way at the table."

Even if the strike is legal, it could be stopped a different part of the law which says: "if .. the strike is or has become a clear and present danger to the health or safety of the public, the employer may initiate in the circuit court of the county ... action for relief which may include, but is not limited to, injunction."

Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act
www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1177&ChapterID=19#top

Illinois Policy Institute website
http://illinoispolicy.org

Chicago Public Schools
http://www.cps.edu/Pages/home.aspx

Strike Central/Chicago Teachers Union
http://www.ctunet.com

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