Are strikes legal? Does it matter?

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Chicago teachers are threatening to strike on September 10th--not great timing since the district's regular school year just started yesterday, September 4.  The timing comes down to the the prescribed bargaining process the CTU and Chicago Public Schools follow--outlined here by CTU--which allows striking only after a mediator becomes involved in negotiations, fact finding is done, and an impasse is reached.   

This got us thinking about the rules governing teacher strikes in other cities across the country.  We took a look at the five largest school districts in the nation--New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, and Clark County, Nevada--and were surprised by what we found.  

While Los Angeles and other California districts follow a procedure similar to that in Chicago, in which strikes can only be called after an impasse is reached, strikes by public employees are outlawed in New York, Florida, and Nevada.

Some might have thought that the new Illinois law requiring 75% of eligible union members to authorize a strike might have been a de facto prohibition on strikes.  CTU has proven otherwise.   

Laws against striking don't always stop it. Teachers in Buffalo, New York went on strike in 2000, though they were forced back to work by the New York's Public Employment Relations Board.

While the legalities vary from state to state, one thing remains the same: schools and school districts require teachers to operate, and teachers can disrupt that operation with any type of job action.

Ginger Moored