Chicago cannot afford to give its public school teachers an 18.2 percent pay raise, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday, dismissing a fact finder's report as "not tethered to reality."
Emanuel all but dismissed the work of arbitrator of Edwin H. Benn and said the contract would be hammered out at the bargaining table paving the way for an on time opening of Chicago public schools.
Remember May of 2011 when Senate Bill 7 was passed through the Illinois General Assembly? That was the bill championed by Oregon-based, billionaire-backed AstroTurf group "Stand for Children."
Video of Stand Director Jonah Edelman describing his "victory" at the Aspen Ideas Festival
Did our mayor forget that he was one of the major proponents of the process that led to the hiring of the fact-finder?
Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel wasted no time in sending out a celebratory statement, calling it a "historic victory" and planning a public appearance to comment at Kenwood High School in Hyde Park. The passage of this bill will make some of his agenda easier to implement, most notably lengthening the school day.
Proponents of the law argued that the hiring of an independent fact-finder would streamline the negotiations process and lead to a fair deal.
Both sides had hoped the arbitrator's report would bridge the divide between CPS and its teachers, forcing them to reset their expectations and work out a deal. Rejecting the fact-finder's report is likely to trigger a more intense round of negotiations.
Authors of the 2011 school reform legislation that set the framework for negotiations included the requirement that contract issues be sent to an arbitrator as part of a larger effort to avoid teacher strikes.
Some are now wondering whether having an arbitrator has helped.
It seems that the Mayor and the billionaire groups that carried his water over changing labor law are now unhappy with the process they once championed. As outside groups and the fifth floor play games, the Union will continue bargaining in good faith over a contract that will be fair for teachers and the families they serve. Let's stop playing games and work towards giving Chicago's students the schools they deserve.
Follow Kenzo Shibata on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kenzoshibata