Chicago teachers strike escalates into PR conflict

Both sides are battling to a draw as the city’s first teachers strike in 25 years goes into its second day.

On Sunday evening, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) walked out on negotiations after both sides failed to reach agreement on several key contract issues. It is the city’s first teachers strike in 25 years, leaving 350,000 students with at least one unscheduled day off and working parents to find childcare.

By Monday, the conflict became a matter of swaying public opinion. Several Chicago area PR professionals agreed that both sides are roughly even in terms of their public relations efforts thus far.

“I think they’re both playing their cards right,” Jamie Izaks, president of All Points Public Relations, told sister site PR Daily. “It’s remarkable how savvy both sides are at this.”

On Monday morning, teachers established picket lines outside of their schools before thousands of them gathered in downtown Chicago to march alongside parents and other supporters. They vowed to stick together until a fair contract is reached.

“[The union] has a good sense of what the media wants,” said Wes Bleed, vice president of Mack Communications in Naperville, Ill., and former WGN radio anchor. “They know how to tell their story. At the rallies, they’re getting big numbers. They’re organized.”

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