FILE - This Sept. 10, 2012 file photo shows Striking Chicago Public School teachers picketing as Mayor Rahm Emanuel visits with students taking part at the Safe Haven program during a teachers strike in Chicago. A threatened strike in 2019 by Chicago teachers would carry on the city's historically significant role in education labor disputes, including the 2012 strike cited by teachers around the country as inspiration for walkouts and other protests in recent years. That seven-day strike was a dramatic test of the Chicago Teachers Union's effort to force expanded negotiations into social issues beyond the typical give-and-take over pay and benefits. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

Chicago teachers may test unions' 'social justice' strategy

October 13, 2019 - 9:16 am

CHICAGO (AP) — A threatened strike by Chicago teachers would test a strategy employed by a growing number of urban teachers unions convinced that transforming contentious contract talks into discussions about class sizes and student services wins public support and can be a difference maker at the bargaining table.

Unions in left-leaning cities including Los Angeles have used that approach this year, emboldened by attention-grabbing teacher walkouts and protests in 2018 in conservative states.

City officials, though, argue contract talks are meant for employee wages and benefits, not questions of staffing or affordable housing.

Talks are continuing ahead of Thursday's strike date in the nation's third-largest school district.

If Chicago teachers strike, experts say educators around the country will be watching to see whether their strategy is successful.

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