Chicago Teachers Strike Marks 10th Day of Canceled Classes

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Chicago Public Schools canceled classes Wednesday for the 10th consecutive day after a dramatic night of negotiations and deliberation surrounding the ongoing teachers strike.

The Chicago Teachers Union called a House of Delegates meeting Tuesday evening after a marathon bargaining session that failed to yield an agreement the night before.

“We were still at City Hall, talking to the mayor as late as four in the afternoon and that was productive, respectful,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said at a news conference Tuesday evening.

“Based on how it goes tomorrow, if there’s a tentative agreement, we would bring in our delegates in the afternoon” for a vote on CPS’ latest proposal, Sharkey said. “I think that we have seen meaningful and important offers on those items and issues, but I’ve got to actually see the written language.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot held a press conference Tuesday evening ahead of CTU’s House of Delegates meeting and publicly released the district’s offer to the union. Earlier in the day, she accused the union’s bargaining team of moving the goal posts in negotiations.

“We came so close, nearly to a tentative agreement on the biggest issues at stake, the two that CTU defined for us as their core issues: class size and staffing,” Lightfoot said at a news conference, saying CPS’ team had made “significant compromises to resolve these issues.”

Lightfoot said the district offered an additional $70 million for staffing, including a nurse and social worker in every school, as well as $25 million dedicated to reducing class sizes, all in writing in the contract, as the union had requested.

CPS Cancels Classes Wednesday, Negotiations Continue

“All told, this is a half a billion dollar offer and yet we still do not have a deal,” Lighfoot said. “Instead the CTU’s bargaining team continues to move the goal post and bring in more issues that do not belong in any collective bargaining contract. They’ve now informed us that they want us to bargain over several other matters that are legislative in nature, not contract issues.”

“For example, they’re demanding that I support a specific bill about an elected school board, a bill that I fundamentally think is flawed and rejected,” she continued. “They also want to negotiate over a change to the state labor law that governs what issues the union can strike over. Again, this is a legislative issue not a contract issue. Are we really keeping our kids out of class unless I agree to support the CTU’s full political agenda wholesale?”

CTU’s general counsel Robert Bloch told a different story when emerging from negotiations overnight.

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City of Chicago Gives Final Offer to CTU

City of Chicago Gives Final Offer to CTU

“The union has laid out a path for the settlement. We’re waiting to hear from the city tomorrow morning,” Bloch said at an impromptu news conference in the early morning hours.

“The issues are the same, same sticking points we’ve had for some time but we believe that with some additional resources we can get it done,” he said.

“We believe we’ve shown the mayor how she can settle this contract and achieve real increases in staffing, sufficient increases in staffing to meet the objectives that we all share, real class size guarantees that the mayor has said that she supports and protection for our lowest paid members and our veteran members,” Bloch continued, adding, “There are a lot of moving parts and there’s different ways to approach some of the needs that our teachers have and that the students need. Some cost more money, some cost less money, so we presented some new ideas to the city and we hope they’ll respond.”

CPS Delays Decision on Canceling Classes as CTU Leaders Meet

CPS Delays Decision on Canceling Classes as CTU Leaders Meet

Standing alongside Lightfoot, CPS CEO Janice Jackson said the district’s latest offer gave the union “several wins” but said the issue of teacher prep time was another sticking point.

“Our contract is being held up due to a union proposal that would reduce the amount of instructional time for our students. CTU is demanding that we either cut 30 minutes off the school day or pull four full days of instruction off the calendar,” Jackson said. “We feel that there is no justifiable reason that kids be prevented from going back into class tomorrow because we refuse to reduce the length of the school day or the length of the school year.”

Jackson added that negotiations are “no longer about money” but instead “political issues” and “a last-minute grab to take away precious instructional time that our students need.”

Protesters Arrested During CTU Demonstration

[CHI] Protesters Arrested During CTU Demonstration

More than 25,000 teachers and support staff in CTU, as well as roughly 7,500 school employees in Service Employees International Union Local 73, went on strike Oct. 17, canceling school for more than 300,000 students in the country’s third-largest school district. SEIU announced a tentative agreement with the district on Sunday but said its members would continue to picket with CTU until a deal is reached.

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