Today marks the second day of the Chicago Teachers Union strike, preventing almost 350,000 public school students from attending class. This is the Chicago Teachers Union’s first strike in 25 years. Randi Weingarten is the president of the nation’s largest teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers. Weingarten visits “Starting Point” this morning to weigh in on the strike and status of negotiations.
“No one wants a strike,” Weingarten says about both sides at the bargaining table. “Teachers are on strike because they are trying to get the tools they need to help educate kids and they are trying to get the resources that kids need.” Weingarten says the real issue isn’t about money but about making “sure books are delivered on time” and “that class is for actual instruction.”
Weingarten also addresses the politics involved in the negotiations and President Obama's remarks on the strike. “The president said as he should, that this is a local dispute,” Weingarten says. Baldwin asks Weingarten why the president shouldn’t take sides if it reverberates nationwide. “The issues at the table are about how we make sure that education is delivered in Chicago,” she responds. “The issues at the table are about how those are on some levels national issues because of the austerity that you’ve seen throughout the nation, the budget cuts you’ve seen throughout the nation, the 300,000 teacher lay-offs you’ve seen throughout the nation, but this is going to be actually be solved at the bargaining table between the mayor and the teacher’s union.”
CNN Contributor Ana Navarro asks Weingarten if it would help if the president, who is from Chicago and served as Senator in Chicago, were to get involved in the negotiations. Weingarten answers no, “The bottom line is that this needs to be solved in Chicago.”
Weingarten also elaborates on CNN Political Analyst Roland Martin’s remarks about the effects of school closures on communities and teachers. “When schools close in communities, it destabilizes communities,” she says. “That’s part of the reason that we’re saying, ‘let’s fix schools.’”
CNN Contributor and BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith’s asks Weingarten lastly whether Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s actions are possibly an extension of federal policy and a broad push for reform. Weingarten says the situation is different from other collective bargaining agreements between school districts and teachers where they have actually been able to implement new standards. “What’s happened here is that between the budget cuts, between the increases in poverty, between not listening to the teachers,” she says, “you have utter frustration.”