Map: Wave of New Teacher Strikes Hits Illinois

Following Chicago’s big teacher strike, several Chicagoland districts are facing new protests. And: see strikes near you over the last 40 years.

Update Wednesday, November 14: Thought teacher strikes were yesterday’s news? Turns out that September’s walkout by Chicago teachers set off a rash of other strikes in Illinois. The Chicago Teachers Union ultimately ratified a 3-year contract, raising pay by about 18 percent on average. But Lake Forest teachers decided to strike the same week over similar issues: health care, benefits, and performance evaluations linked to standardized test scores, closely followed by three additional Chicagoland teacher strikes. We’ve also updated the map with submissions from reader comments, so keep them coming!

By our count, there have been 839 teacher strikes in the US in the last four decades, 740 in Pennsylvania alone. See our map below to find out where teachers have gone on strike the most, and which states prohibit teachers from hitting the picket line.

(See below the map for notes on the ins-and-outs of what constitutes a strike, strike legality, and more.)

Are we missing a strike? We are building this data set as we go, so if you know of a strike in your hometown in the last 40 years or so, please leave it in the comments below.

Note that in some states, for example Washington, teachers are not legally protected if they strike, but don’t face any legal penalties if they choose to do so. In these states, courts can still order teachers back into the classroom (Emanuel tried this tactic in Chicago.)

In Maryland, it is not illegal for teachers to strike, but it is illegal for unions to direct a strike, according to Susan Russel, head legal counsel at the Maryland State Education Association

Some strikes in prohibitive states occurred before anti-strike laws were passed; but in other cases, teachers found ways to skirt the law (by calling in sick, en masse), or risked jail time.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend