Chicago city workers defy new thug mayor

December 13, 2011

From the November-December 2011 issue of News & Letters:

Chicago—Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made no se­cret of his contempt for City workers and his desire to weaken their unions. His attitude was perfectly cap­tured in early September when he screamed “F—k you, Lewis!” at Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis during a meeting in his office.

Since then Emanuel and his public school hench­man Jean-Claude Brizard have gone out of their way to undermine the CTU. They tried to coerce individu­al schools to break with Union rules by agreeing to a 90-minute extension of the school day without Union approval.

They’ve done this with vague promises of raises and extra funding that will likely never be seen. This shell game has now been blocked by the Illinois Educa­tional Labor Relations Board.

Legislation has already been passed to bring in a longer school day in 2013, so these maneuvers are strictly designed to undercut the City’s public work­ers unions. The Mayor is indicating that he will pull similar power grabs on the Chicago Transit Workers Union as his public bullying campaign begins against bus drivers and mechanics in what promises to be a never-ending series of cutbacks.

When Emanuel screamed at Lewis, she still ended the meeting by hugging him because she is a warm, decent human being. But it would have been preferable had she cut the meeting short and walked out, and the entire Chicago labor leadership demanded an apology before any discussions were held with the Mayor.

If he can’t hold himself to the level of civility that would be expected from any public school student or teacher, then he needs to be disciplined.

—Teachers supporter

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