The Chicago Teachers Union is heading into contract talks with the wind at its back: A new poll that shows likely voters have a favorable view of the union that stood toe-to-toe with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and overwhelmingly embrace the union’s “educational justice agenda.”
The telephone poll of 600 likely primary voters was conducted Dec. 11-through-16 by Lake Research Partners and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.
It shows 62 percent of voters surveyed have a favorable view of the union that led its members on a seven-day 2012 teachers strike that was Chicago’s first in 25 years after Emanuel instigated the walkout with his bullying missteps, including cancelling a teacher pay raise.
That’s compared to a favorability rating of just 31 percent for the City Council, 41 percent for the Chicago Board of Education and 33 percent for County Board.
Emanuel’s handling of education issues was viewed as fair or poor by 66 percent of those surveyed.
The poll also concluded that:
•93 percent of responding voters branded new investments in education, teachers and neighborhood schools as an “extremely important issue.”
•56 percent say it’s important for the next mayor to do something to confront the “unequal concentration of wealth” in downtown Chicago and the displacement of working-class African-American and Latino families.
•An identical 56 percent believe racial segregation “should remain an important factor when determining attendance boundaries for Chicago Public Schools.
•A so-called “millionaires’ income tax” is the most popular source of additional funding for CPS, with 73 percent calling the idea “good or excellent.”
•61 percent support a new tax on large corporations that pay their employees less an $12-an-hour.
The poll was conducted three weeks before a criminal complaint filed in federal court accused Ald. Edward Burke (14th) of shaking down the owner of a Burger King franchise for legal work and muscling a $10,000 campaign contribution for Toni Preckwinkle from fast-food kingpin Shoukat Dhanani.
Before getting caught up in the Burke scandal, Preckwinkle was the frontrunner with 18 percent of the vote, followed by state Comptroller Susana Mendoza with 12 percent and Bill Daley with 10 percent.
They were followed by Amara Enyia and Garry McCarthy (both at 7 percent); Paul Vallas and Willie Wilson (both at 6 percent); Lori Lightfoot and Gery Chico (each at 5 percent); and Dorothy Brown at 4 percent.
Among black voters, Preckwinkle had 23 percent to 11 percent for Wilson and everybody else in single-digits.
Among Latino voters, Mendoza led with 23 percent, compared to 14 percent for Preckwinkle, 12 percent for Chico and 11 percent for Daley. White voters were divided between Preckwinkle (13 percent); Daley (12 percent); Mendoza (14 percent); and McCarthy (12 percent).
Nineteen percent of voters surveyed were undecided.
Four years ago, Preckwinkle was the CTU’s first choice to challenge Emanuel. When Preckwinkle took a pass, then CTU-President Karen Lewis stepped up to fill the void, only to drop out after being diagnosed with brain cancer.
The CTU’s third-choice, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, managed to force Emanuel into a runoff but fell short.
Last month, the CTU threw its formidable endorsement behind Preckwinkle one day after the former school teacher embraced the union’s education agenda.
Preckwinkle broke with the CTU on only one issue: She declared her opposition to a so-called “LaSalle Street tax” now prohibited by state and federal law amid concern that it would drive the financial exchanges out of Chicago.