In a decision that will affect more than 300,000 children, teachers in Chicago went on strike today (October 17). It is the second time in seven years that the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has voted to strike in the nation’s third largest school district.
“We have not achieved what we need to bring justice and high quality schools to the children and teachers of Chicago,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said yesterday at a union meeting. “We need to have the tools we need to do the job at our schools. We need pay and benefits that will give us dignity and respect. We are on strike until we can do better.”
Altogether, more than 30,000 workers will be on the picket lines. This includes 7,500 teacher aides, custodians and security guards who members of SEIU Local 73. SEIU said Wednesday evening it had rejected CPS’ contract offer and planned to strike on Thursday along with CTU.
The city has offered the union 16 percent raises over five years, with a minimal increase for healthcare contributions. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says her administration “bent over backwards’ to meet the union’s needs.
Yet the negotiations have not addressed the union’s main issue, which is improved working conditions for the educators. This includes smaller classroom sizes and staffing each school with a librarian, social worker and guidance counselor. “Nine of 10 majority-Black schools have no teacher librarians, and there aren’t enough teachers for English language learners in the district, which the union said is ‘nearly half Latinx,’” according to CNN.
CEO of Chicago Public Schools Janice Jackson said that administrators and nonunion staff will be at work throughout the strike, allowing buildings to remain open. They will also serve breakfast, lunch and dinner to students. “We want to make sure that their ability to get healthy food on a daily basis is not interrupted,” the mayor reportedly said about the student body that is approximately 37 percent African American and 47 percent Latinx.
Negotiations are expected to continue today.
Monday was just the beginning. Tomorrow, we put more than 30,000 CTU educators and @SEIU73 members in the streets for the schools our students deserve. And we won’t stop until we have everything we need to make this city better. #putitinwriting #CTUSEIUstrike #faircontractnow pic.twitter.com/03QpDOUmkT— ChicagoTeachersUnion (@CTULocal1) October 17, 2019
Kids can’t decide to have an asthma attack when the school nurse is on duty. Every child deserves a fully-staffed school with nurses, counselors, teacher aids & staff. @CTULocal1 #FairContractNow #PutItInWriting #FundOurFuture https://t.co/lDvM6qiUed— Daniel Santos (@mr_dsantos) October 17, 2019
Much love to the CTU, students & their parents today! Demands and ways to support below. If you can’t be there in person, you can call @chicagosmayor’s office and demand Lightfoot put her promises in writing: 312-744-3300. #FairContractNow #CTUstrike pic.twitter.com/5WxIPmBN2x— MUAVI (@MomsUnitedChi) October 17, 2019
STRIKING TODAY FOR: ???????? Support 4 students w/trauma-social workers, counselors, restorative justice coordinators, nurses ???????? Special Ed protections ???????? Class size caps ???????? Pay 2 lift paras out of poverty ???????? Prep time 2 plan, collaborate @CTULocal1— Sarah4Justice (@Sarah4Justice) October 17, 2019
Before the sun is up education workers are on picket lines this morning here in front of Christopher Elementary on the south side and across Chicago. In addition to CTU members, thousands of support staff are striking. #CTUSEIUstrike #CTU #CTUstrike pic.twitter.com/tI9TV98nLx— Aaron Cynic (@aaroncynic) October 17, 2019