Teacher Unions: Striking for Change

Essay by ahoskins83University, Master'sA, December 2012

download word file, 18 pages 0.0

On Monday, September 10, 2012, 30,000 Chicago Public School teachers decided that they were not reporting to work and called for a strike. For the first time in 25 years, educators in Chicago chose to walk picket lines rather than standing in front of their classrooms and instructing students. This historic event in Chicago made national news and aroused attention in teachers all over the nation. I quickly became obsessed with the Chicago Teachers Strike because my family is full of educators in the Chicago area. My Facebook news feed was taken over by photos of aunts and cousins walking in picket lines and protesting. My family members were asking that I wear red to work in Houston in support of the teachers in Chicago. This was so very fascinating to me, I felt like I was a part of a movement even hundreds of miles away. At this point I knew that I wanted to research teacher union groups and how they come to the decision that they are going to strike in order to get what they want.

Before I get into details about the Chicago Teachers Union and the recent strike, I want to give a brief history and understanding about what teacher unions are where they come from, what they do and most importantly the term "collective bargaining".

What is a teacher union? Are they labor unions? These are very controversial questions. A union can be classified as a continuous association of wage earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their working lives. (E.D. Duryea 1973) Labor unions are legally recognized as representatives of employees in many industries in our country. The activity of labor unions centers on collective bargaining over issues such as; wages, benefits, and working conditions for their membership.