When Chicago public school teachers started the fall semester by turning down a $400 million contract offer that would have boosted pay by 16 percent over four years, my first concern wasn’t for the children. It was for the Democrats.
Sure, the walkout by Chicago Teachers Unionmembers caused havoc for kids. But I’ve been to public school, and I can tell you they didn’t miss much.
The strike’s lasting damage was to the party that since at least the early 20th century has been labor’s best friend.Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not just some schmuck in the donkey party: He is President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff, the congressional leader behind the Democrats’ 2006 House takeover, a Clinton administration arm twister so feared that he is still known by his’90s nickname, Rahmbo.
But the strike made Chicago’s tough-guy mayor look like Chuck“Bayonne Bleeder” Wepner. Striking teachers dubbed him“Empermanuel,” accused him of having “no respect for us as people,”and even claimed (falsely, it turned out) that Emanuel was a fan of the Canadian alt-rock quartet Nickelback. When the teachers returned to work after more than a week on the picket line, they had scored a big pay increase and crippled the teacher-evaluation testing at the heart of the strike, a resolution Emanuel unconvincingly called an “honest compromise.”