In a new study released by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Senior Fellow Daniel DiSalvo found that the increasing cost of binding union contracts is forcing state and local governments to “crowd out” other services, and spend less money on roads, libraries, and—not surprisingly—schools.
Case in point: on May 22, 2013 the Chicago Board of Education voted to shut down 50 schools and education programs throughout the Windy City, marking the largest single wave of school closings in the nation’s history. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis declared it “a day of mourning,” and indeed it was. It was also a day of great irony.
In September of last year the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike, demanding, amongst other things, higher pay. Mayor Rahm Emanuel warned that district was already cash-strapped with a deficit close to $1 billion, but the union strike held out over a week, leaving Emanuel no choice but to concede to their demands. The new contract agreed upon increased the average $76,000 annual teacher salary by 17.6 percent, costing the city $74 million a year or $295 million over the next four years. The Huffington Post concludes that the only way the country’s thirds largest school district could afford such an expensive contract “was to shut down schools and fire the teachers who worked there.”
At a press conference on May 23rd, UTC President attacked Emanuel’s role in the shut downs, and said:
Our mayor, who is away on a ski trip, drops this information a week before spring break. What’s their spring break going to look like?
Maybe she should worry less about spring break, and worry more about the children’s education and future. However, demanding expensive contracts from an already poor school distinct clearly demonstrates that the union’s priorities lay elsewhere.
It also demonstrates how left-leaning unions jeopardize even the most cherished liberal causes—such as education funding.