Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Democrats and Teachers Unions ... It's Re-election Time

Chicago teachers are on strike. The teachers union President Karen Lewis appears to be negotiating from a position of strength.

So if he's not careful, her adversary Mayor Rahm Emanuel may end up being thrown under the bus by his political friends and allies. As he once opportunistically said early on as chief of staff for President Obama, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." Now the shoe's probably on the other foot, but the sentiment still holds true.

So this oddsmaker is betting on Karen Lewis over Rahm Emanuel right now. That's because she likely will enjoy the behind the scenes support of President Obama and the rest of the Democrats seeking re-election this November. She knows it, as does Mr. Emanuel, and besides, Chicago is a union town.

The Democratic Party is a staunch union ally as well, and get out the vote efforts and TV advertisements cost lots of time and money. So that's where lots of union efforts and membership dues will be spent during the campaign, assuming the teachers union and the Dems stay in love through election season, which I'm betting they will.

Rahm and the Teachers Union says this about the reasons to believe it will be a very short strike:

"The Chicago teachers strike that began Monday has become a battle of wills between Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

Mr. Emanuel was elected with overwhelming union support, but now parents and taxpayer groups, outraged over the brazen action by the CTU, want to know if Mr. Emanuel will stand up to those who are preventing kids from learning. So far, Mr. Emanuel isn't backing down and has called the teachers' action a "strike of choice." For her part, Ms. Lewis calls Mr. Emanuel "a bully," a "liar," and an "imperial" mayor.

Until now Mr. Emanuel has been tight-fisted with unions, as the city lacks the finances to pay for high salaries and super-generous benefits. But in Springfield, where reform must start, the state Democrats have had spines of angel hair pasta when confronting the union leaders.

Mr. Emanuel fully understands the financial reality of the Chicago Public Schools: they're broke. According to an analysis by the Illinois Policy Institute, CPS will be draining cash reserves this year just to stay afloat, and will be $1 billion in the red next school year.". . .

President Barack Obama

Most forms of merit pay are opposed by the CTU, and tenure reform is considered out of the question. Given the dreadful performance of the city schools—only four out of 10 high school kids graduate—this might be an ideal opportunity to expand charter schools and scholarships for private schools. Those schools are open for business and have superior outcomes with the kids.

The problem is that the mayor may not want to antagonize labor, an interest group that President Obama is counting on to win re-election. Mr. Emanuel remains one of the president's top political strategists and fund raisers. His incentive, political sources in Chicago tell me, is to get this strike resolved at any cost so that he can concentrate on getting Mr. Obama re-elected. This means that for reasons of political expediency, Mr. Emanuel may have to fold to union pressure and get the kids back in school. When it comes to modern Democratic priorities, the unions always come before the taxpayers."

Summing Up

Sad but true.

And that, my friends, is another great example of why politics sucks. 

And why public sector unions suck, too.

And why the joined at the hip relationship between unions and the Democratic party sucks as well.

We're heading down the road to insolvency, and the public sector unions and too many Democratic Party leaders, along with some small minded Republicans as well, are the ones driving the bus.

Thanks. Bob.

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