Striking Back in Chicago: How Teachers Took on City Hall
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There are lessons for the wider union movement here. The CTU offers an example of a kind of leadership seldom seen in organized labor, where potential union officers are usually bred for docility by self-perpetuating bureaucracies. At a time when strikes are rare, union membership is shrinking and concessions to employers are commonplace, the CTU's boldness stands out. Here was a union prepared to risk everything to win a victory rather than passively accept a decline into irrelevance.
The strike didn't halt corporate education reform in Chicago, where neighborhood school closures proceed and charter school proliferation continues. Even so, the CTU's resistance has helped to strengthen the growing national movement to save our schools. It's an example of what working people can achieve when they're united and take collective action.
Ed Sadlowski can say that he saw it coming. "You're going to win," he told teachers at the rally a year earlier. "You're going to win big, too. The real question at hand, though, is when you win, what do you do with it? Well it's a natural question, and it's a natural answer. Pass it on, sisters and brothers, pass it on."