The 2012 Chicago teachers’ strike, which ended a year ago today in a victory for the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), was one of the most significant labour victories in North America since the economic crash of 2008. The seven day strike saw daily protests in downtown Chicago and mass pickets throughout the city.
The CTU, under the leadership of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE), which had won the union leadership in 2010, diligently built alliances and links with communities and parents in the lead up to the strike. They took stances for more funding and resources for children and they opposed the school closures that were (and still are) taking place in predominantly African American communities. CORE also actively reached out and empowered their membership while rebuilding their shop stewards network. CTU’s high strike vote shows the success of CORE’s outreach and democratic practice, 90% percent of the CTU’s 29,000 members voted to authorize strike action (of those that voted it was 98%). The strike dealt a firm blow to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s neoliberal education agenda of laying off teachers and privatizing more and more of Chicago’s schools. The struggle over the fate of the education system in Chicago and beyond is of course still ongoing
We at Rank and File.ca believe that this strike should be studied and generalized. Moreover, we think that trade unionists should be looking at how CORE organized from below and were able to reach out and speak to the issues of their membership and the community and empower them to take action. In that spirit we present to you a list of readings and videos to learn more about this strike, how it was organized and why it was successful.