CHICAGO — A Chicago judge said he will not act until at least Wednesday on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s request to block a teacher’s strike and the union accused the mayor of a “vindictive act” as the walkout moved into a second week.
Emanuel’s lawyers went to court on Monday seeking an injunction to have the strike declared illegal under state law. Circuit Court Judge Peter Flynn set a hearing on the request for Wednesday morning, according to Chicago Public Schools.
Emanuel went to court after union delegates decided on Sunday to extend the strike in order to consult with rank-and-file members on whether to accept a new contract negotiated with Emanuel and the Chicago school district.
The stalemate left some 350,000 kindergarten through high school students out of school for at least the first two days of this week, forcing parents to scramble for alternative child care for a second week.
The union, which represents some 29,000 striking teachers and support staff, blasted Emanuel’s legal gambit in a statement on Monday, calling it a “vindictive act.”
“This attempt to thwart our democratic process is consistent with Mayor Emanuel’s bullying behavior toward public school educators,” the union said. “Members of the (Chicago School Board) want to trample our collective bargaining rights and hinder our freedom of speech and right to protest.”
Delegates for striking teachers are due to meet again on Tuesday to decide whether to end the walkout. Teachers picketed at dozens of schools on Monday, although the picketing was thinned by the Rosh Hashanah Jewish holiday.
“State law expressly prohibits the (union) from striking over non-economic issues, such as layoff and recall policies, teacher evaluations, class sizes and the length of the school day and year,” the school district said in a statement. “The (union’s) repeated statements and recent advertising campaign have made clear that these are exactly the subjects over which the (union) is striking.”