Teachers’ Union Gets Good Marks for Crisis Preparation

Teachers' strikes are almost invariably a nightmare for all sides. Though the recent strike in Chicago lasted only nine days, the 26,000-plus teachers who "abandoned their classrooms," and the government side which "undervalued the importance of teacher," certainly did some harm to their image in the eyes of the people of Chicago, especially the parents of school-aged children.

Now that dust is settling post-strike, the PR hit caused by the strike has forced the teachers unions to take a proactive approach to crisis management, as the strike in Chicago may be a sign of things to come. Meaning more strikes.

To avoid even worse PR hits, the teachers are taking some positive steps to build goodwill. 

On Sept. 21, the American Federation of Teachers, the parent organization of the Chicago teachers union announced it will hold town hall meetings and workshops in the coming weeks in major cities across the country. The move is intended to help repair the image of teachers unions and be a rallying point for members.

If and when another strike occurs, a plan will have been implemented to help avoid the potential negative PR it will produce. The public will have been educated on the issues teachers are dealing with which build support and better understanding among the community.

Having knowledge of a crisis is an advantage that allows time to produce a strategy and plan of action.

Think of the Chicago teacher’s strike as a crisis that was settled, but one that left lingering negative feelings. It produced negative PR and didn’t go over with the public (the consumers) well at all. Now you, the PR pro, are armed with the knowledge gained from the last crisis and can use that knowledge to diffuse a similar crisis that may happen in the near future. By laying the groundwork before a crisis hits, you can either avoid the next one completely or soften the blow.

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