Chicago Teachers Union vote to authorize strike

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CHICAGO — Chicago teachers voted to authorize a strike Thursday if contract negotiations fail. The union’s House of Delegates will meet next Wednesday to set the strike date.

In a statement, CTU said, "the Union passed the 75 percent threshold of members voting "yes." 94 percent of teachers, clinicians, PSRPs, nurses, librarians voted to authorize a strike to win the schools Chicago's students deserve."

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson issued a join statement after the teachers union announcement.

They issued the following statement:

“As a City, we make promises to our children, including ensuring that every single student receives a high-quality education that allows them to live up to their full potential and fulfill their dreams. Teachers are essential to that promise, and we are grateful for the hard work they put in every day for our students. For the past several months, the City's and CPS's bargaining teams have engaged with teachers in a good faith effort to create an inclusive process that listens to their concerns and ideas on how to improve our schools, input which is now reflected in the historic offer that supports our shared progressive values and desire for every child to be equally prepared for success. We’ve committed to increasing critical support staff to record levels and presented an offer that would boost teacher pay by 16 percent over the next five years, making Chicago’s teachers among the highest compensated in the nation. As the product of public school systems ourselves, we know firsthand how hard our teachers work, and we celebrate their engagement and tenacity during the bargaining process over these past months. We are committed to doing everything we can to finalize a deal that is sustainable for all Chicagoans and for our City’s future, that respects our teachers, and continues our students’ record-breaking success for years to come.”

Earlier Thursday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned of the consequences of a strike.

“Having a strike would be catastrophic for the learning environment for our kids. We can’t lose sight of that,” she said. “We know that kids who stay in school are much less likely to be victims of crime and much less likely to be perpetrators of crime. So putting 360,000 kids on the street when a deal is right here at our fingertips, how does that make sense? It doesn’t.”

Bargaining continued Thursday with CTU President Jesse Sharkey in the room. Talks resume Friday.

CPS CEO Janice Jackson sent staff and parents a chart showing the district’s offer to teachers.

It is a 16 percent pay raise over five years. With step and lane raises, the average teacher salary would climb to near six figures

“At the end of that five years she will be making almost $100,000 a year. That’s real dough,” Lightfoot said.

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But the union is holding out and demanding that the district put in writing its pledge to hire more social workers and nurses. Also, the teachers want smaller class sizes and more bilingual teachers.

“The mayor keeps talking about how much money she’s offering us and we keep saying this isn’t just about the money, this about wrap-around services, supports, dealing with critical staffing shortages, capping class size,” Sharkey said. “These are about the teaching and learning conditions that our students need to succeed.”

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