The Chicago Teachers Union is currently in contract negotiations with the Chicago Public Schools and has been since November 2011. While much has been made of the interim agreement in which the Union was able to successfully stop the threat of a 7 hour and 40 minute work day as well as force the District to hire displaced (tenured) teachers in over 500 new positions, the parties have not reached a new contract agreement.
Educators have been without a contract since June 30.
Despite the interim agreement, there are many open issues still on the negotiating table in which there has been little movement. Public school educators also remain concerned about the District’s refusal to provide adequate wrap-around services for students severely impacted by poverty and violence in addition to threats of ballooning class sizes. Teachers are concerned about the new evaluation process of which 40 percent of the review is based on how students perform on standardized tests. Job security, health benefits and teacher pay have not been resolved.
While we continue to bargain in good faith, CTU members continue to prepare for a work stoppage in September when most of them are required to return to the classroom. State law requires a “cooling off period” of 30 days after the issuing of a fact-finder’s report. At the end of this period, or thereafter, the CTU may strike provided it has first given the District a 10-day notice of the intent to strike.
It should be noted that movement at the bargaining table came only after nearly 10,000 people marched in downtown Chicago in support of a fair contract and more resources for neighborhood schools. This dramatic action was followed by a historic vote, where 90 percent of CTU members voted 98 percent to authorize a strike.
We recognize strikes are not popular. However, they are the strongest tool public workers have in ensuring their rights are not trampled upon and working conditions are fair and equitable. The CTU is fighting for strong, well-resourced neighborhood schools where students, regardless of their zip code, will have equal access to a high quality education.
Chicago is a world-class city and it deserves world-class neighborhood schools. Teachers, paraprofessionals and school clinicians are prepared to do what it takes to protect their jobs, their students and their schools. ###