"I believe this is avoidable because this is a strike of choice," Emanuel said at a hastily called news conference at the
Emanuel sought to cast the negotiations as hinging on two remaining issues: a new teacher evaluation system and principals' ability to get rid of teachers. Chicago Teachers Union officials said there are more remaining issues than that, although they conceded the strike is not primarily about money.
The strike on Emanuel's watch could cut against the narrative the mayor is trying to craft as a leader who's a problem solver moving the city forward. It also could set the tone for his somewhat fractured relationship with labor, with his first major union contract negotiation ending in a strike.
Emanuel's aggressive posture in pushing for a longer school day and year, while also cutting the pay raise teachers were supposed to get last year, galvanized the union. With negotiations being watched carefully on a national basis, the soured relationship may have led union leadership to strike as a way to take a stand against Emanuel's tactics.
Sending Emanuel into negotiations to broker a last-minute deal wasn’t an option because there was so much bad blood between him and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, several sources said. Instead, the administration dispatched Board of Education President David Vitale to sit in on talks in the waning days. Vitale helped negotiate teacher contracts in 2003 and 2007, and the union took his hands-on involvement as a sign the district was serious about sealing a deal.
While the mayor kept close tabs behind the scenes, Emanuel has maintained a relatively low public profile since returning from the
The mayor hasn't had a public schedule since last Tuesday, the first day of school for most Chicago Public School students. Emanuel has, however, been out and about the city. On Friday, he attended a
“I hope so,” he said.