There has been a lot of scorn heaped on the Chicago teachers – among the most lavishly compensated in the nation with a $76,000/year average salary – who rejected a contract that included a 16% pay increase because it included provisions allowing their performance to be evaluated and because the pay raise wasn’t large enough. And rightfully so. These teachers have abandoned their students, and left parents in a lurch, all to avoid bringing some accountability to one of the nation’s poorest performing school districts.
But it’s worth remembering that not all Chicago teachers may be on board with the strike. You see, Illinois is not a right to work state. Belonging to the union – or, at least, paying union dues – is mandatory. Participating in the strike is mandatory unless you resign from the union (you still have to pay dues) and get permission from the school district to go back to work.
National Right to Work has a round-up of the options available to Chicago teachers who do want to return to work, but the bottom line is that the union holds all the cards. The individual workers have very few rights when it comes to disobeying the union.
Illinois, and the people of Chicago, would be a lot better off if they started valuing the rights of workers of the rights of unions.