Negotiation is the art of agreement between two parties on a given subject matter so as to resolve a particular conflict or transact business. History has taught the world that negotiation is what has aided the evasion of the central world disasters and has also helped major business empires to survive the ever-changing business environment. It is through negotiation that peace has reigned in most parts of the world. Negotiation is an important tool in conflict resolution as the parties involved are both given a chance to be heard, and the mutual consensus is reached. The interest at hand can be compromised by either party once the deliberated topic has thoroughly been discussed. This process usually in most cases requires a negotiator to be involved to get the two involved parties to sit down and discuss their opposing views.
The Chicago teacher union strike is an outstanding example of a conflict that needed a unilateral decision so as to end the crisis. The attack took place on September 10 of 2012 and went on for a whole ten days as a disagreement between the city of Chicago and the Chicago teachers union raged on. It begun as the then mayor, Rahm Emanuel lobbied a legislation from the Illinois state for education reforms (Weiner, 2012). The bill was then passed in May 2011. This bill entails changing how the city would handle their activities with the Chicago teachers union. This bill limited the involvement of teachers in a strike over matters that were unrelated to teachers salaries. This new law offended the teachers union as they saw that the new mayor was an enemy of unions since every union is entitled to push for more than just the wages of its members. The mayor went further to negotiate with individual schools rather that engaging the union which further aggravated the discontentment of the union with the way the city handled educational matters.
The Chicago teachers' unions began to push for their rights from the Chicago public schools from November of 2011 through engaging in negotiations for better benefits. Stephanie Gadlin, the unions spokesperson, insisted that their strike was about educational justice while the mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel viewed the strike as a strike of choice as he claimed that the city had an offer for the union that was closer to their demands.
The Chicago teachers union had their demands that had to be met by the Chicago Public Schools administration. Some of their demands were met while some they lost during the negotiation process. The teachers had some issues in their contracts that they needed to be addressed and resolve for them to resume their teaching responsibilities. The terms of the demands were aimed at creating an enabling and conducive environment for the learning process. The demands that were stipulated in the contract that was submitted to the Chicago Public Schools included the class sizes, the compensation procedures, the need for upholding the professional development days and the effects of the proposed seven at a half hour daily school program (Rado, 2012). For active learning by the students, the teaching infrastructure should be up to the required standards. The class sizes within the schools in Chicago could not effectively meet the ever growing number of students in the learning institutions. The classes were overcrowded and the facilities that available for use by the students were overused and could not meet the demand.
The incorporation of classroom libraries in the small-sized classrooms proved difficult. The general progress in both mathematical skills and the literacy skills were immensely affected by the small nature of the classes. There was thus the need for the district administrators to provide funds for the constructions of new classes to facilitate both learning and the teaching process. The teacher-student ratio in most of the schools was low. Averagely, the ratio stood at 40 students per teacher as opposed to the recommended ratio of 28 students per teacher. Creation of an enabling environment would immensely in improving student performance and make them active learners as opposed to the traditional passive nature of learning. The teachers demand for compensation of the hardships and sacrifices they made in the were aimed at providing a source of motivation to their professionalism. The teachers needed compensations for the longer working hours and the loss of the planning time for the teachers. Motivation is critical in achieving performance. Motivated teachers would perform exemplary and would, in turn, motivate the students towards achieving academic excellence and nurturing of skills and talents in the students.
The negotiations process was met by many challenges that had to be addressed before the beginning of the negotiations. The Education Board had been earlier accused of bribery accusation to the members of the union that had voted for the budgetary allocations for the schools. The board of education had offered financial incentives that were aimed at destabilizing the union. The demands prioritized the needs and demand of the students that were formulated to achieve performance. The demands that were made by the union were to relieve the students, the taxpayers and the parents in the event of financial difficulties (Brogan, 2014). The addition of more working days to the school calendar year was also of great concern. The Chicago Public Schools administration proposed the need to reduce the professional development days which was helping the teachers in curriculum evaluation and the required training.
The negotiations, however, yielded wins, losses and drew to both the union and the Chicago Public Schools administration. The payment of the teachers met significant changes. It was agreed that the teachers were to be paid by the traditional salary schedule which was subject to both the base raise, step rise and the lane raise for the holders of masters degree and other academic credits. The base increase was to be done in three-phase that included three percent in the first two years and two percent in the third year.
The teacher ratings would also be incorporated into performance evaluation from the students. This was to ensure that the teachers focused on student performance and progress. It was also resolved that the school calendar year was to have an additional ten days and 176 days of attendance by the pupils. The union proposed the creation of a hiring pool to cater for the laid-off teachers. The laid-off teachers would also be considered for the available substitute jobs by the CPS. The laying off of the teachers would be based on teacher ratings as opposed to the seniority measure. The successful negotiations led to the end of the teachers strike and they soon embarked on their teaching roles.
Rado, D. (2012). Chicago teacher strike: Issues at the center of contract negotiations. Chicago Tribune, 17.
Weiner, L. (2012). The future of our schools: Teachers unions and social justice. Haymarket Books.
Brogan, P. (2014). Getting to the CORE of the Chicago Teachers' Union Transformation. Studies in Social Justice, 8(2), 145.
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