Chicago’s strike & lessons from New York—Michael Benjamin –

My op-ed got a good lead-in this morning from Capital New York’s Azi Paybaragh (Morning Briefing):

Attention Chicago: The teachers union in NYC shows how strikes aren’t the only way a teachers union flexes its muscle. [Michael Benjamin]

My op-ed in today’s NY Post –

For me, the just-ended Chicago teachers strike awoke personal memories of the three New York City school strikes I experienced — which I remember as ugly, traumatic and pointless.

I’m not the only one. In his 1973 film, “Sleeper,” Woody Allen blames the destruction of civilization on “a guy named Albert Shanker” having gotten his hands on a nuclear weapon.

Shanker was the longtime head of the United Federation of Teachers who led those three New York strikes.

The Chicago Teachers Union settled because it was losing the hearts and minds of Chicagoans. Parents were losing patience, and teachers looked worse with each missed school day.

Now I wonder if the CTU is going to learn from the UFT. If so, Mayor Rahm Emanuel better watch out.

In the wake of those ugly strikes, the UFT recognized that striking over so-called working conditions only angers parents and taxpayers. Instead, it set out (successfully) to co-opt the process.

The union took the raw materials at hand — teachers and dues — and used them to “capture” parents, politicians and the courts.

Everyone rails against deep-pocketed education reformers (the finance-types helping charter schools, etc.), but they’re only doing what the UFT has perfected over the last four decades.

After losing the fight over control of schools by locally elected community school boards, the UFT proceeded to influence (and sometimes control) the boards by running members and community residents aligned with it. In the spirit of “if you can’t beat them, join them,” the union offered campaign support, volunteers and money.

Read more: Chicago’s strike & New York’s union—Michael Benjamin –


About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email FOMB08@GMAIL.COM.
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1 Response to Chicago’s strike & lessons from New York—Michael Benjamin –

  1. Dale Benjamin Drakeford says:

    Disagee! Disagree! Disagree! Woody Allen is a comic writer so put “sleeper” in perspective as citizens not unions sleeping through the important decisions. Allen is also the real life guy that abuse the family institution, much like real “reformers” abuse the concept. I applaud the success of the teacher’s union in Chicago and expect nothing less from the folks in NYC.


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