The Chicago Teachers Union plans to file a 10-day strike notice on Wednesday, meaning a teacher walkout could begin as early as the second week of school. In a press release issued today, union President Karen Lewis stated, “This is a difficult decision for all of us to make. 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 and CPS have been in contract negotiations for months but have failed to reach a compromise. The district agreed to hire 447 teachers who had been laid off to fill the extra hours of the extended school day so that teachers will still work the same number of hours even though students will be in school longer. However, neither side has been able to agree on salary, pay raises, job evaluations and rehiring laid-off teachers.
The walkout notice doesn’t mean that the union will necessarily strike, but if they choose to do so, they could begin as early as Monday, September 10.
Chicago Public Schools is the nation’s third largest school district, serving 404,000 students in 675 schools. CPS has budgeted a $25 million strike contingency plan that would include providing snacks and games to students, since the district is not legally authorized to give traditional classroom instruction without certified teachers.
Chicago Public Schools' CEO, Jean-Claude Brizard, issued a statement saying, "Everyone knows that a strike would only hurt our kids. They can't afford to be removed from the classroom just as they're making progress with the new full school day. That's why we'll continue to meet every day until we reach a fair resolution for our teachers and avoid any disruption to our kids' school year. If CTU leadership decides to strike, we will be prepared to provide our students with the services they need to keep them fed and in a safe environment with positive activities."