Long lines at poll caused by teacher's union contract

Long lines and frustration at a polling place at the Newberry Elementary School at 700 W Willow were caused by the new teacher's contract, according to officials there.

When poll workers showed up at 5:00 am to open, they were told by Newberry staff that they couldn't use the school gym, where the polling place had been located been located for many years. They were instead cramped into a side room, where tight conditions made it difficult to erect all of the polling booths. Lines stretched out the door and down the block as people struggled to vote. Booths were placed an inch apart. The single polling location was shared by two different precincts.

Linda Foley-Acevedo, the principal, said the gym was unavailable because it is where students have lunch. On election day, students are normally directed to have lunch in their classrooms under teacher supervision, but under the new teacher's contract this was not allowed, because teachers are entitled to a break without supervising children. There was insufficient flexibility in the contract to allow exceptions.

Irritated voters, struggling to vote and get to work on time, didn't think much of the contract.

"This is yet another reason that inflexible public union contracts, with absurd work rules, cause problems for the taxpayer," said Chris Cleveland, spokesman for the Chicago Republican Party. "Can't we use common sense for one day?"

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