Mayor Lori Lightfoot Willing To Compromise On CPS Makeup Days For Strike, But Won’t Agree To Teachers Union’s ‘Take It Or Leave It Demand’

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday she’s willing to negotiate with the Chicago Teachers Union on how many lost days of school will be made up for the days spent on strike, but she won’t agree to the union’s “take it or leave it” demand to compensate teachers for all 11 days that have been missed so far.

“We have been told by the CTU that they will end the strike only if we agree to make up all the days missed due to the strike. They have basically issued a take it or leave it demand. They get 11 days back or the strike continues. That’s simply a non-starter,” Lightfoot said Thursday morning at City Hall. “Both sides must have a spirit of compromise. That’s what the CPS bargaining team brought to the table every single day.”

The mayor said she’s willing to have a conversation with the CTU about how many lost days of class the district will make up after the strike ends, but won’t cave to an all-or-nothing ultimatum.

On Wednesday, the union’s House of Delegates voted to accept a tentative contract agreement with the Chicago Public Schools, but did not end the strike, demanding CPS agree to make up for every day of class that has been missed.

Teachers have been on strike since Oct. 17, and students have missed 11 days of class so far.

Illinois State Board of Education spokeswoman Jackie Matthews told CBS 2’s Tara Molina that statute requires 180 school days per school year – counting teacher institute and parent-teacher conference days when students may not be in school.

CPS has 178 days when actual students are in school, along with six days for teacher workshops or parent-teacher conferences. This means CPS’ calendar officially has eight more school days than are required by state law. But Thursday will make 11 days, and thus, three will have to be made up, Matthews said.

However, Mayor Lightfoot disputed that, saying ISBE told her the city won’t have to make up for ay lost days of school so far.

Lightfoot said Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey never brought up compensating teachers for lost days due to the strike as part of its demands for a new contract.

“We cannot allow the CTU leadership to continue to make repeated new demands, and move the goalposts unilaterally and repeatedly,” Lightfoot said.

The mayor noted she said even before the strike started that she did not plan on making up for lost days of class, and the union didn’t demand makeup days until they had reached a tentative contract agreement.

“If there was some urgency and other issue, particularly in the context of me saying repeatedly, from day one, that I was not going to pay them for striking, that we were not going to make up these days, wouldn’t you think if this was a priority that they would have brought it to the table?” she said. “They didn’t do that, and we are where we are now, and if they’re willing to come to the table in a spirit of compromise, I’m certainly willing to listen, but this is on them.”

The union has planned a rally for later Thursday at City Hall to call on the mayor to agree to their demand for makeup days.

“Our delegates told us in no uncertain terms that we are not going back to work unless there is a provision made for making up the instructional days that have been lost,” Sharkey said Thursday night.

CPS Chief Executive Officer Janice Jackson said the only way to make up for all 11 days of missed classes would be to either extend the school year until the end of June, or to shorten winter break, when many parents already have made plans for those days off of school.



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