The Chicago Teachers Union hasn't gone on strike in a very long time, and the same goes for most teachers unions - and they are more strike-prone, it seems, than most public employee unions. We don't have a lot of strikes in the United States, and when they, or lock-outs, happen, as with athletes or harbor pilots, or what have you, it often looks like a negotiating tactic en route to a pretty quick resolution, rather than the right-to-exist gotterdammerungs of the British labor unions in the 1980s.
But many public employees can't strike, not legally anyway, and the rest almost never do. In that sense, the Chicago strike is interesting because it goes against the implicit "we'll work it out" position that most public employee unions take. And it's not so surprising that the Times thinks the conflict has been driven by the confrontational personalities involved.
I'm no expert on unions, though I find strikes to be fascinating. But there are plenty of people at Wharton who think about unions a lot - you can get a sense of some of the views around here from this.
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