Durbin tells teachers, Chicago schools to ‘get back to the table’

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Monday urged the Chicago school board and union groups to move “as quickly as possible” to end a teachers strike beginning Monday.

“Both sides need to get back to the table as quickly as possible and stay there and negotiate through the night if necessary. Get it over with quickly, so we can get these kids back in school,” said Durbin during an interview with CNN’s "Starting Point."

“Four hundred thousand kids, 200,000-plus families this morning have the harsh reality of no place to go. What are these families going to do?” asked Durbin. “I mean, they’re going to find a place or stay home from work today because of this? What’s going to happen to your son or daughter?”

ADVERTISEMENT
Durbin's comments, Monday, come less than 24 hours after the Chicago Teachers Union announced it had failed to reach a contract deal with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the former Obama administration White House chief of staff, and would go on strike starting Monday.

The strike, the first by Chicago teachers in 25 years, could affect roughly 350,000 students in the Chicago public schools system, one of the largest in the country.

The dispute also places Democrats in a difficult situation this election year as Emanuel could find himself in a protracted fight with an important labor group that has been a staunch supporter of President Obama. The contract fight also comes amid concerns from labor groups that they their issues have not received enough attention from the administration.



Durbin on Monday said he understood Emanuel’s goals in the heated contract negotiations with Chicago’s public school teachers. 


"I understand what the mayor is trying to do, he's trying to say to [Chicago Teachers Union President] Karen Lewis ... 'Roll up your sleeves, let's sit down and get it done.' And that's exactly what needs to occur," Durbin said in a separate interview with CBS's “This Morning.”

On Sunday night Emanuel said that his administration made a reasonable offer to the teachers to avoid a work stoppage and called their decision "a strike of choice," according to the Chicago Sun-Times

Asked on CBS how long he expected the strike to last, Durbin said, "It's hard to say.

"The sooner it ends, the better it is for Chicago," he added.