Chicago Teachers Union Strike: You Might As Well Investigate the CTU For Antitrust

Imagine you lived in a city where a single entity operated 86% of the schools. Its employees are so protective of their exclusivity, they raise millions for politicians to pass legislation preventing any meaningful competition. Their dominance is so secure, they leave their classrooms just as the fall semester begins, pledging not to return until their customers pay them substantially more. This despite the fact their prices are among the highest in the country and their graduation rates are among the lowest.

You would be correct to identify this as a prime example of monopolistic behavior, a danger in any industry, particularly one as important as schooling.

Welcome to Chicago today.

The Chicago Teachers Union is entering their second day of a work stoppage that is keeping over 350,000 children and teenagers out of class. Thanks to the union’s persistent lobbying against charter schools, vouchers, and other means to expand school choice, those students have nowhere else to learn. This makes CTU’s strike extraordinarily unethical.

For the sake of Chicago’s schoolchildren, it’s time to begin an antitrust investigation of the CTU.

The CTU features all the hallmarks of a coercive monopoly. It is a private organization whose members provide exclusive teaching services to the Chicago Public Schools. It maximizes its revenues by lobbying government for greater numbers of teachers who are required by law to become dues-paying members. And it has led the charge for increased government spending on its members’ salaries and benefits, demanding a 30% raise as contract negotiations began earlier this year.

However, the CTU is not your run-of-the-mill monopoly. It’s actually much worse.

Because it uses government as a tool to acquire and protect its privileges, CTU is a government monopoly. Government intervention and cronyism have created a situation in which taxpayers have no choice but to pay for schools that fail around half of Chicago students by almost every measure.

Sadly, school performance will have no reason to improve after a new contract is inked. Because CTU’s monopoly will have been reinforced by the school board’s probable capitulation on job security and evaluations, teachers will face fewer incentives to serve students better.

Better schools for Chicago’s children are possible and exist today. A study by the RAND Corporation found charter school students “had higher ACT scores, graduation rates and college entrance rates than their peers in traditional public schools.” And charters are closed if they don’t perform. But only a relative handful of Chicago’s students are able to benefit from charter schools because the CTU has worked hard to limit them.

It’s time for government to stop enabling this private organization to wield so much power over Chicago children’s futures. No special interest should have complete control over the schooling of thousands.

As a first step toward real school reform, it’s time to launch an antitrust investigation on the CTU.

Originally published at

Filed under: Public sector unions



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  • Yeah, I agree. It will be investigated right after AG Holder looks into "Fast and Furious".

  • Good point! We should also be investigating the Chicago Fire Department, another monopoly! And the Police Department, who dastardly prevent the many private police forces from solving our murder problem (as they no doubt could... in days, if they just didn't face the unfair competition!) Also, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, who it turns out are all run out of one office... completely paid for by taxpayers!!! (Shocking but true.) Talk about your crony capitalism!!!

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    In reply to Jeremy Hornik:

    If this guy did his homework he would know that many of the disciplinary problems are thrown out of charter schools and public schools are not allowed to turn them away, so after you investigate them you might as well build jails since they will not qualify for education and then, oh my, we will have to investigate the prison industries for their monopoly as well. Better start getting rid of their union so you can house all the kids interest the CTU is actually representing. BTW who cares if school just began. If you had an accident at the beginning of summer do you refuse treatment because it would spoil your summer? You can blame the teachers for the timing, in fact, they spent the summer trying to avoid this scenario.

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    The premise that CPS is a monopoly is simply ludicrous. Not everything is run better by the private sector and in fact things like schools and electricity are better for the public if run by the public. (Assuming schools are sufficiently funded which they haven't been.) As a matter of fact, the current worldwide economic disaster that is causing all of these austerity measures were caused by the private sector. The financial institutions manipulated derivatives and caused devaluation of bonds, etc owned by various governments. It caused millions to lose money and / or jobs thus reducing the tax base so local governments couldn't keep up with obligations. From Chicago to California to Greece to Spain and across the globe, the banksters have destroyed the economy. Blame Goldman Sachs not school teachers who want what's best for their students.

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