All three morning shows on Monday covered the massive teachers strike in Rahm Emanuel's Chicago that left 350,000 students in the lurch. However, only CBS This Morning explained that the teachers, through their public sector unions, are already well compensated, making an average salary of $71,000 a year (plus benefits).
Reporter Dean Reynolds informed viewers, "That a dispute involving public sector employees would erupt in Chicago was somewhat surprising, given the generous packages unions here have won in the past." He noted that "Chicago's public school teachers make an average of $71,000 a year." Good Morning America and the Today show ignored these facts.
On NBC's Today, Kevin Tibbles offered, "The core issues here involve pay raises and health care, the teacher evaluation and a recall policy for laid off teachers."
Although the strike could be a disaster for Mayor Emanuel, Barack Obama's former chief of staff, Tibbles only allowed, "This strike is seen by many as first real test for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a challenge for President Obama who has been relying on labor support in this fall's election."
Over on Good Morning America, Alex Perez insisted, "What happens here could impact education reform across the country...So all eyes, as far as labor movement, on this strike."
Perez did not explain how generously the teachers are already compensated or what they are striking for. It wasn't until an 8am news brief that Josh Elliott noted the impasse came "after failing to reach a deal over health benefits and a new evaluation system."
He did allow that such reforms were pushed by "President Obama's former chief of staff."
In contrast, CBS provided the most context. Reynolds closed his report by pointing out, "In addition, a teacher strike in the hometown of a President who stresses the importance of education could also be seen as something of a political embarrassment."
A transcript of the September 10 CBS This Morning segment can be found below:
07:08 am EDT
CHARLIE ROSE: This morning, thousands of public school teachers in Chicago, the nation's third-largest school district, are on strike. It is a huge headache for city leaders and hundreds of thousands of families.
Dean Reynolds is outside Walter Payton College Prep School in Chicago. Dean, good morning.
[CBS News Graphic: "Chicago Teacher Strike: Labor Showdown Shutters Schools"]
DEAN REYNOLDS: Good morning, Charlie. Well, after the long, hot, and often violent summer Chicago has experienced, a teacher strike is the last thing this city and some 350,000 public students really needed.
REYNOLDS (voice-over): Talks to reach a four-year contract broke off late Sunday night, meaning the city's 25,000 unionized teachers will go on strike this morning, the first such walkout in this city in a quarter century.
LEWIS: We will walk the picket lines. We will talk to parents. We demand a fair contract now.
REYNOLDS: Chicago's public school teachers make an average of $71,000 a year. But both sides said they were close to an agreement on wages. What apparently remains, though, are issues involving teacher performance and accountability, which the union sees as a threat to job security. About 45,000 students who attend the city's charter schools will not be affected by the walkout. Their schools will stay open.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has already forced teachers to lengthen their school days, said he was disappointed by what he called a strike of choice by the union.
EMANUEL Our kids belong in the classroom. The negotiators belong at the negotiating table and finish their job.
REYNOLDS: That a dispute involving public sector employees would erupt in Chicago was somewhat surprising, given the generous packages unions here have won in the past. In addition, a teacher strike in the hometown of a President who stresses the importance of education could also be seen as something of a political embarrassment.
REYNOLDS (on-camera): Now, Chicago will keep open some 140 regular schools, like this one behind me, between 8:30 and 12:30 today, staffed by non-union personnel, who will basically be giving out breakfast and lunch to the students who show up. In addition, parks, libraries, and churches will be acting as what the mayor calls safe-havens for the children who suddenly find themselves out of school.