Belabored Podcast #113: Chicago Teachers Strike Back, with Sarah Chambers

Belabored Podcast #113: Chicago Teachers Strike Back, with Sarah Chambers

The Chicago Teachers Union is on the verge of another major strike—one that could be even longer and nastier than the union’s landmark 2012 fight. Public school teacher and CTU activist Sarah Chambers lays out the stakes.

Teachers participating in a one-day strike called by the CTU, April 1, 2016 (Chicago Teachers Union / Flickr)

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Our very first episode of Belabored focused on the aftermath of the 2012 Chicago Teachers Union strike, which sent shockwaves through the labor movement, inspired dozens of reform caucuses in teachers’ locals to contest for power, and put Democratic politicians on notice that labor was not going to just go along again. It’s now 2016, and the CTU is on the verge of another strike—one that might be an even longer and nastier struggle for the future of Chicago schools and Illinois public institutions as a whole. We sat down with Sarah Chambers, Chicago public school teacher and member of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators to talk about strikes past and future.

We also hear from a former Alabama correctional officer on the prison strike that is ongoing, and get an update on the unionization of the bus drivers who shuttle Big Tech workers around; we look in on the conflict within labor over the Dakota Access Pipeline and the fight for a fair work week. For “Argh,” we consider the work of 911 dispatchers and the building of utopias.

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De Blasio Proposed Legislation to Benefit Fast Food Workers (Politico)

Secure Scheduling is Seattle’s Next Big Labor Fight (The Stranger)

Michelle: J. Crew, Urban Outfitters and More Just Stopped Using On-Call Scheduling (The Nation)

Sarah: Standing Firm at Standing Rock: Why the Struggle is Bigger Than One Pipeline (

AFL-CIO Backs Dakota Access Pipeline and the ‘Family Supporting Jobs’ It Provides (In These Times)

Tech Shuttle drivers Join Teamsters Union (San Francisco Business Times)

Michelle: Bridging Silicon Valley’s Wealth Gap (The Nation)

Alabama Correctional Officers Did Not Report to Work, Department of Corrections Confirms (


96 Percent of Chicago Teachers Vote to Strike (DNAinfo)

Sarah: Impending Chicago Teachers Strike Adds Power to Nationwide Debates on Inequality and Racism (Truthout)

Sarah and Josh: Belabored Podcast #1: “We Will Shut Down Your City,” with Karen Lewis (Dissent)

Sarah and Josh: Belabored Podcast #45: The Meaning of the Chicago Teachers Strike, with Micah Uetricht (Dissent)

Argh, I Wish I’d Written That!

Michelle: Akash Kapur, Return of the Utopians (New Yorker)

Sarah: Yana Kunichoff, In Times of Emergency, Exactly Who Is That voice on the Other End of the Line? (Pacific Standard)