Chicago Teachers Union Sets Strike Date for Sept. 10
Photo courtesy of Chicago Teacher’s Union Local 1 Via Flickr
Chicago Teachers Union members will walk out to strike on Sept. 10 unless an agreement can be reached with CPS, announced union president Karen Lewis on Thursday, Aug. 30.
The announcement comes one day after Lewis filed the required 10-day strike notice – an authorization issued to her by CTU delegates on Aug. 22.
“This is a difficult decision for all of us to make,” said Lewis in a press statement. “But this is the only way to get the Board’s attention and show them we are serious about getting a fair contract which will give our students the resources they deserve.
CTU has been in contract negotiations with the school district since November 2011. While an interim agreement was reached on the longer school year last month, other issues remain, according to CTU. These include class size, health insurance and a district proposal where student test scores will be 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.
If CTU members go on strike, CPS has rolled out a $25 million contingency plan that would take care of and feed students during the time teachers are on strike. The plan would keep 145 schools open half days with central office staff and non-union employees leading kids in activities such as journaling, art, and computer-based games, according to WBEZ.
“If our priority is our kids, then strike should never be an option. That’s why we need to take advantage of each of the next 11 days and work until we reach a fair resolution for our teachers that will allow our kids to stay in school where they belong,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard in a statement.
More than 350,00 students will be taken out of the classroom and varsity sports will be suspended if a strike occurs, according to Brizard.
During informational pickets held throughout 240 CPS schools the week of Aug. 20, CTU members passed out flyers to inform parents about the contract agreements in case the decision was made to go on strike.
“I don’t think anyone wants to go on strike. I think we just want to get the information out in the event that one was to occur,” said John Piegari, a teacher at Calmeca Dual Language Academy in Brighton Park.
Whether teachers go on strike or not, teachers like Piegari want to ensure that parents are informed throughout the process and understand that teachers want to continue working with students.
“People want to be here they want to help out, we want that to be known,” he said. “We want parents to know that too. Parents want us to do what is right for the students, we want to do what is right for the students, and I think we’re just asking that the board does that too.”
The last time Chicago teachers went on strike was in 1987.