Following is a statement by President Larry Cohen, Communications Workers of America, in support of the fight by Chicago teachers, members of the American Federation of Teachers, for a fair contract and a voice in the classroom:
Washington, D.C. – “It’s time to confront elected officials who try to divide working women and men. Chicago’s Mayor should heed the words of President Obama, who in his Labor Day proclamation just a few days ago said, ‘I am committed to preserving the collective bargaining rights that helped build the greatest middle class the world has ever known. It is the fundamental right of every American to have a voice on the job, and a chance to negotiate for fair pay, safe working conditions, and a secure retirement. When we uphold these basic principles, our middle class grows and everybody prospers.’
Whether in the public or private sectors, whether we are union or not, working men and women need to defend those rights as we did in Wisconsin and across the nation over the past 18 months.
The Chicago teachers are more than willing to support reform but this cannot include class sizes of more than 40 students, almost total reliance in evaluating teachers on test scores, and scapegoating teachers and other educational staff for much bigger problems.
Quality public education is critical in every 21st century democracy and all of us need to stand up and fight back.”