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Chicago teachers strike: Why Rahm Emanuel's court gambit may backfire (+video)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Public Schools on Monday asked a court for a temporary injunction that would end the teachers strike immediately. They are taking a calculated risk that the move won't actually slow resolution of the conflict.

CPS fails to get court order ending strike
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By turning to the courts to try to end the Chicago teachers strike, now in its second week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is taking a calculated risk that the public will be on his side and that the move won't actually slow the resolution of the city's battle with the union.

The soonest the courts will take up the matter, however, is Wednesday, according to Cook County Circuit Court Judge Peter Flynn, who on Monday afternoon denied an immediate hearing of the city's request for a preliminary injunction that would end the strike immediately. That means students attending Chicago Public Schools are certain to be out of school Tuesday and perhaps longer.

The Chicago Public Schools, under the directive of Mayor Emanuel, had filed a complaint earlier Monday asking the court for a temporary restraining order and for the injunction, on the grounds that the strike is illegal under state law and presents “a clear and present danger to public health and safety,” according to court documents.

The Chicago Teachers Union released a statement Monday that described Emanuel’s actions as “vindictive” and an “attempt to thwart our democratic process.”

The court strategy could backfire by aggravating the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), whose delegates are currently considering the terms of a tentative contract. 

“Both sides are in the middle of negotiations, where you are building a relationship of trust. What the mayor is trying to do is put his thumb on the scale … he’s moving a little too quickly," says Randolph McLaughlin, a labor lawyer and a professor at Pace University Law School in White Plains, N.Y. "If there is a division within the union that sees this as a heavy-handed tactic, it may push the union to a more aggressive position by continuing to strike, and that’s not very helpful.” 

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