Our view: Quick end to strike aids Obama
September 12, 2012 4:24PM
THE FIRST AMENDMENT
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Updated: October 15, 2012 9:22AM
The Chicago teachers strike has huge implications for the Obama administration.
If it drags on long enough, the strike that began Monday inevitably will draw comparisons to the tough stand taken by Republican governors in Wisconsin, Ohio and New Jersey against public employee unions.
Almost inevitably, it will have Republicans waxing nostalgic for President Ronald Reagan’s firing of striking air traffic controllers in 1981.
But these are Chicago city employees, and there’s little President Barack Obama can do about it except walk a fine line between the teachers unions, among his strongest supporters, and his education reforms — some of them at issue in Chicago — that they largely oppose.
Much as he probably would like to, Obama cannot totally distance himself from this contentious labor dispute of at least 26,000 striking teachers, affecting more than 350,000 students and, of course, their parents.
The mayor of Chicago is Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former White House chief of staff. Obama’s education secretary is Arne Duncan, who was chief executive of Chicago Public Schools from 2001-08.
Unions almost always enter a strike on the losing side of the public relations battle and face a hurdle in winning over public opinion.
Randi Weingarten, president of the Chicago union’s parent American Federation of Teachers, blamed the strike on teachers feeling “completely disrespected.”
That may not strike most people as sufficient reason for shutting down the nation’s third-largest school system.
Republicans, momentarily forgetting their own Chris Christie for a second, portrayed the strike as typical of the bare-knuckled Chicago political milieu that produced Obama.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said it was a typical example of teachers unions placing their interests over those of the children.
For Obama, the only good that can come out of this strike is a quick end.
Scripps Howard News Service