by Lindsay Beyerstein
How our blog got its name
Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”
Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.
It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.
Chicago Teachers Strike Ends
The 800 union delegates representing Chicago's public school teachers voted overwhelmingly last night to end their strike:
The terms, which appeared to provide some victories for both sides, would give annual raises to teachers, lengthen the school day and allow teachers to be evaluated, in part, with student test scores. The school system would also aim to guide laid-off teachers with strong ratings into at least half of any new job openings in the schools.
While a halt to the teachers’ strike, this city’s first in a quarter century, may end the immediate, local contract fight over pay, working conditions and job security, the episode brought to the forefront larger questions, still unanswered, about the philosophical direction of public schools here, a national agenda for educational change and the potency of unions. [NYT]
The two sides reached a tentative three-year contract with an option for a fourth year, but the document has not yet been made public. The union did not get the raise it initially sought, but it held off a proposed merit pay scheme, defused the most stringent aspects of the teacher evaluation proposal, and secured a recall procedure for high performing teachers laid off due to school closings.
The contract must still be ratified by the rank-and-file.