Saturday, October 19, 2019


25,000 Chicago Teachers Union members and the 7,000 teachers' aides, custodians, and security guards who joined the strike—have won praise for focusing their demands on making structural changes to the city and school district, instead of just teacher raises.

CTU President Jesse Sharkey said the city offered $8 to $10 million to reduce class sizes—an improvement over the $1 million it initially offered. The union is also demanding enough funding to pay at least one nurse for each of the more than 500 schools in the district. As of Friday morning the district had offered funding for 250 more nurses.

The union accused Mayor Lori Lightfoot of "stonewalling" with claims that the city has no more money in its budget to meet the union's demands. They want a significant portion of a $181 million surplus from last year's increased tax revenue to go to hiring more teachers and support staff—far more than the $400,000 that were offered by the district ahead of the strike.

"The mayor is in control of every single resource in this city," Davis Gates said. "The fact that we can't conclude is about her refusal to do so.... She controls transportation, she controls public safety, she controls housing, she controls economic development, she controls public education. Certainly a mayor who has that much control can figure out how to land a contract that improves the lives of students in Chicago Public Schools."

On social media, supporters of the strike have demanded that Lightfoot follow through on her campaign promise to bring social and racial equity to the school system.

"Educators in Chicago want the same thing educators who have walked off the job all across this country want: the resources to give their students what they need," American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said. "Mayor Lightfoot promised those resources during her campaign—she ran on a 15-point plan for education justice and equality. But she hasn't kept those promises."

Thanks to the solidarity efforts of community and labor groups, more Chicagoans support the possible strike than oppose it. To bolster support for the CTU and SEIU Local 73, the CTSSC has held multiple events to bring teachers and community members together by having discussions about the conditions in the schools and the importance of the unions’ demands. One such event was an October 10 town hall featuring speakers from over a dozen community organizations and local unions.

The unions aren’t just bargaining for better wages or pensions; they’re bargaining for vital things that we need in our communities.

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