The Chicago Teachers Union is holding a day-long strike today with events planned across the city organized not only by CTU but various other union groups.
Picket lines outside schools will start as early as 6:30 in the morning, and according to CTU’s count, more than 50 union and community organizations are expected to take part in the so-called “Day of Action.” The day will conclude with an afternoon rally at 4:00 p.m. outside the Thompson Center.
Ahead of today’s events, the union released a tentative schedule of schools CTU President Karen Lewis will visit, including:
King High School (4445 S. Drexel Blvd.)
Beasley Elementary School (5255 S. State Street)
Chicago State University Rally for Higher Education (9501 S. King Drive)
Fund Our Futures Rally (Thompson Center)
In addition to these stops, Lewis will visit other schools along the route. The demonstration at Chicago State University, which is running out of money due to the state budget impasse, is an effort by students and the administration to call on the state to fund higher education. CSU President Thomas Calhoun is scheduled to attend.
The University Professionals of Illinois (Local 1400), which represents more than 3,000 faculty and staff at the state’s public universities, is planning several “Fund our Future” events at campuses around the state. Black Youth Project 100 will also have members organizing an event at Chicago State University’s Student Union.
Other Labor Groups taking part in today’s events: Northeastern University Illinois Faculty Union, Chicago State University Faculty Union, Fight for $15, United Electrical Workers Western Region, Alliance of Charter School Teachers and Staff 4343, SEIU Healthcare Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, Cook County College Teachers Union Local 1600, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, Jobs With Justice, Illinois Association of Retired Americans, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and SEIU Local 73. Close to 30 community groups have also signed up to support CTU.
CPS Outlines Contingency Plans
Citing concern that there will be an unknown number of faculty absences, Chicago Public Schools said it will open more than 250 contingency sites where parents can drop off their kids. The Board of Education is teaming up with the city’s public libraries and Park District to help staff sites around the city, each will provide students with breakfast and lunch.
All afternoon programs will be canceled and CPS-operated buses won’t provide transportation. Instead, CTA will provide free transportation for all students who present a CPS ID.
CPS schools and Chicago Park District sites will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Chicago Public Library sites will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Safe Haven hours, which are 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
CTU & CPS Still Bargaining; Claypool Calls Strike “Illegal”
CTU called for the “unfair labor practice” strike today to show support for increased state revenue and to protest stalled contract negotiations with the Board of Education and “union busting” efforts by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
On Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that while he understands and “shares those concerns” raised by CTU, he didn’t think the union should “take it out on our students.”
“I appreciate the stand with teachers in opposition to what our state’s doing. I ask you not to take it out on our children and their education. You have a political call to action, it is a correct political call, but…the call to action should not lead you to walking out of the classroom,” the mayor said during a media briefing. Asked what course of action he thought the union should take instead of a strike, Emanuel said that’s up to the members. “I’ll join hands with them in trying to get Springfield to change.”
Officials with the Board of Education have called the strike illegal, citing state labor law that says unions are prohibited from picketing in the middle of contract negotiations. CTU and CPS have been bargaining over a new contract since November 2014. Early last month, a CTU bargaining committee voted to reject the tentative agreement for a four-year contract that would have eliminated the Board of Education’s pension pick up and provided net pay raises in the third and fourth years of the contract.
A third party arbitrator is still in the fact finding process required under collective bargaining agreements. That 105 day fact finding period concludes on May 17, about a month before the end of the school year. The union has argued this strike is based on unfair labor practices, not on contract negotiations. CPS Chief Executive Officer Forrest Claypool said any teacher who walks out won’t get paid.