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Questions and Answers About Our Contract Campaign

Together, our union fights to win.

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Latest Bargaining Update
Answers About Strike Loans, etc.
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Download this Q&A for printing in PDF format.

How has our situation changed as we go into these contract negotiations?

Through our unity, we’ve been able to fight off cuts in the past and protect our schools from some of the most aggressive schemes cooked up by City Hall and their clouted billionaire friends. Ten years ago, the austerity/privatization education agenda had public support. Today, the people of Chicago have embraced our analysis. Parents and the public at large overwhelmingly support us on the need to invest in our schools, reduce class size and school closures, and reduce over-testing. Thanks to advocacy by our members and allies, CPS finances are more stable and we don’t face the same level of financial crisis as in our last round of contract negotiations. We have a chance to move from merely defending what we can into pushing our agenda forward to make our schools better. We need to focus on our priority list of demands that can transform our schools and convince people that we can win them.

How can CTU Win what Chicago’s educators and students deserve?

We have to be ready to strike in September. We have come a long way, but there are still powerful forces lined up against us, our schools and our communities. There will be huge pressures to cut budgets, weaken our schools and attack our union. If we want to win, we may not have to strike, but we must be ready in the fall.

What are our key demands for the next contract?

CTU Demands vs. CPS Demands

Pay and benefits (including health care)

Educators in our district have been frozen, furloughed, fee-hiked and forced to work with staff shortages in every area. Today, CPS has stronger economic support, due in part to the work that CTU members and staff have done in advocating for fair funding. CPS needs to stop short-changing the people who make our schools work. CTU will not accept excuses for continued neglect of teacher, clinician and PSRP pay and benefits.

Staff our schools

Counselors, nurses, librarians, psychologists, social workers, teacher assistants, student and family paraprofessional support—you name it, CPS has been ripping off our students by not hiring or retaining the licensed, certified and unionized staff they need. We will not tolerate the continued elimination of essential positions like school librarians, certified school nurses or special education teachers. We will fight for staffing commitments and good working conditions in all the areas that impact children’s learning.

Smaller class sizes

Our students need individual attention from their teachers. We cannot provide that level of attention when we have over 40 students in a kindergarten or any other class. Since 1995, state law has given the district the upper hand in class size negotiations. Now, with solid, enforceable class size language emerging in our newly won charter school contracts, we are stronger than ever in fighting for this key demand.

Justice for students and families

Student learning doesn’t just depend on what happens inside the classroom. CTU will fight for social justice for our students and their families with demands in the following areas.

Affordable housing

Upscale development plans keep pushing rents sky high. Lack of affordable housing is leading to pushout from the city. That has led to declining student enrollment—especially among Black families. Watch and share the video presentation below on these demands:

Sanctuary Schools

In Chicago and throughout the country, students have been criminalized more and more each year. From the threat of ICE raids on students and families to the disproportionate calls to police for Black students, to a gang database that unfairly labels our students without due process or recourse, all our students need sanctuary. We’ll fight for our schools to protect our communities and to be places where kids can be kids—safely and without biased stigmatization.

Sustainable Community Schools

In the 2015 contract, we bargained for and won a Sustainable Community Schools pilot program. The program paired twenty schools with community partners to provide the kind of wrap-around supports that students in high-risk communities need for success. We will fight to broaden this program to at least 75 schools, so that our students have their social and health needs met and can focus on learning.

Restorative Justice

Although CPS claims to support restorative practices to resolve student issues, the truth is that this has become an excuse to ignore problems kids face and sometimes cause. In order to truly practice restorative justice, schools need staff to coordinate that work and provide the time and energy for more than just band-aid “solutions” to their problems.

What do members need to do to build our power?

All of our work from now to September should help us lead a strong contract campaign. Along with our ongoing efforts to enforce our existing contract, our school level fights, and our work to elect candidates who reflect the needs of our schools and communities, we need to highlight our ideas for how to win the schools Chicago’s students deserve. We need strong union structures in our buildings (PPC, PPLC, Contract Action Team) which can reach out to parents, students and community about what we want to win. By winning fights to enforce the contract we can make these needs visible and gain school-level improvements now. This will help get the public on our side while building our own morale, confidence, and strength.

How will this bargaining process go?

The CTU’s members weighed in on our demands, our House of Delegates ratified the specific language to bring to the bargaining table (available to all members in our MemberLink Portal), and formal negotiations have begun. Although the negotiation calendar can’t be predicted down to the day, this is the general timeline.

  • Contract survey conducted to get member feedback

    Contract survey conducted to get member feedback
  • Members submit 400+ contract proposals

    Members submit 400+ contract proposals
  • PPC meets 6+ times to vet proposals and make recommendations

    Photo of 32 members of the CTU bargaining team
  • EBoard and HoD approve recommendations of bargaining priorities

    EBoard and HoD approve recommendations of bargaining priorities
  • EBoard and HoD approve contract proposals

    EBoard and HoD approve contract proposals
  • CTU delivers proposals to CPS and begins regular bargaining

    CTU fights for students!
  • Mediation requested and begins

    Mediation requested and begins
  • Fact Finding requested and begins

    sharkey 7-11-19
  • Fact Finding hearing

    Mayor Lightfoot, keep your promise.
  • Fact Finding report is officially issued

    The Fact-Finding Report was issued on August 11, 2019. Click below to watch the CTU’s press conference following its release. The press conference begins at the 2:00 mark and you will need to manually turn on sound by pressing the icon in the frame.

    You can also read our response to the Fact-Finding Report’s initial release to get more context.

  • All Member Contract Meeting

    All Member Contract Meeting

    At the all-member CTU meeting on Tuesday, August 20 we discussed the status of bargaining for a new contract—and next steps as members readied themselves to start a new school year and accelerate our struggle for the contract our members, students and school communities deserve.

  • Fact Finders Report Rejected

    CTU’s major officers and rank and file members gather at the press conference

    On August 25, we rejected the fact-finder’s ruling in favor of CPS, after laying out in extensive detail both why CPS can afford our contract demands and why they should enshrine them in an enforceable contract with our members, after laying out in extensive detail both why CPS can afford our contract demands and why they should enshrine them in an enforceable contract with our members. Download our briefs, slide presentation and notes to learn more about why CPS can afford our demands – and why our members and students deserve what we’re bargaining for.

    Fact-finder materials

  • Delegates Set Dates for Strike Authorization Vote

    CPS put it in writing!

    At the September 4 House of Delegates meeting, the vote was unanimous that the union will conduct citywide balloting to authorize a strike over the period of September 24, 25 and 26, 2019. This authorization doesn’t guarantee a strike will happen. If approved by at least 75% of CTU members, the House of Delegates would be provided the authority to set a strike date if and when it decides that a strike is necessary to win a fair contract.

  • CAT Training Sept. 7

    CAT Training Sept. 7

    In preparation for the strike authorization vote, CTU will conduct a Contract Action Team training at the CTU Center from 1-3pm on Saturday, September 7 and, again, on Saturday, September 21.


  • CAT Training Sept. 21

    CAT Training Sept. 21

    In preparation for the strike authorization vote, CTU will conduct a Contract Action Team training at the CTU Center from 1-3pm on Saturday, September 7 and, again, on Saturday, September 21.


  • Members Vote on Strike Authoriz­ation

    Members Vote on Strike Authoriz­ation

    All CTU members must vote on whether to authorize the union to strike. Authorization does not ensure a strike, but allows the 800-member House of Delegates to set a strike date if it becomes necessary to win a fair contract.

  • House of Delegates Meets

    House of Delegates Meets

    The next regularly scheduled House of Delegates meeting following the Strike Authorization Vote will be Wednesday, October 2, 2019. At this point, delegates will assess the vote, the situation in bargaining and sentiment among their colleagues to make decisions about next steps. The next steps could include a strike. A strike date can only be set by vote of the House of Delegates.

  • Strike Deadline

    Strike Deadline

    If members do not have an acceptable contract in hand, we will be on strike starting Thursday, October 17.

What should we expect from the new mayor?

We sincerely hope that Lori Lightfoot will be committed to improving our public schools and will see implementation of CTU’s contract demands as a step in that direction.
We are also prepared to do what it takes to win improvements for our schools. That includes the possibility of a strike this fall.

Will there be a strike this fall?

Across the country, teachers and other educators have gone on strike to stand up to cuts, privatization and inadequate pay. The #RedForEd movement was both inspired by CTU members who struck in 2012 and has inspired us to fight even harder for students and educators in our district. If CPS does not offer us a just contract, a strike is a strong possibility.

How realistic is it that we’ll win these expensive demands?

No doubt, the schools our students deserve and the compensation our members deserve add up to a significant increase in district spending. The price tag on our demands may be in excess of $1 billion. That is truly a large sum, but consider that this city continually comes up with funding for every corporate giveaway imaginable. Remember that Rahm offered more than $2 billion to Amazon. Now he and the city council have moved ahead on plans to subsidize Lincoln Yards with $1.3 billion in tax dollars. Given all that largesse, why shouldn’t our students—our future—get a similar investment?

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Chicago Teachers Union
Chicago Teachers Union1 hour ago
The right to affordable housing is a civil right. This is what happens when people organize and come together for their community.
Chicago Teachers Union
Chicago Teachers Union6 hours ago
We still hear from people who cannot believe that our members had to go on strike for 11 days just to have a nurse and social worker in every school.. “When we fully understand, as a society, that school nurses are not ‘extras’ — because kids with disabilities are not ‘extras’ — we predict this chronic shortage of nurses will magically disappear.”
Chicago Teachers Union
Chicago Teachers Union20 hours ago
Dr. King said the labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. He knew that those looking to silence us were trying to silence justice. And we will never be silent.
Chicago Teachers Union
Chicago Teachers Union1 day ago
There will always be struggle if you are dedicated to causes that are just. In honor of Dr. King's legacy, make no apologies for your work in this movement, and know that you are on the right side of history toward the fulfillment of his dream.
Chicago Teachers Union
Chicago Teachers Union1 day ago
“Negroes are almost entirely a working people... Our needs are identical with labor’s needs – decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community.”
Chicago Teachers Union
Chicago Teachers Union1 day ago
From housing inequality, to voters rights, to equitable schooling, so much of Dr. King’s dream is still unrealized. So his struggle continues and it takes new forms. And new heroes, like educators.
Chicago Teachers Union
1 day ago
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Main Hashtags

  • #FairContractNow
  • #PutItInWriting
  • #StandWithCTU
  • #RedForEd

Specific Hashtags

Use these hashtags with posts that fit them. For example, #ClassSizeMatters with a photo post of your overcrowded room.

  • #SolidarityFriday
  • #PrepTime
  • #TeachersPrepare
  • #ClassSizeMatters
  • #FairPay
  • #StaffOurSchools
  • #WomensWorkEqualPay
  • #SanctuarySchools

More from the Contract Campaign

Contract Campaign Central
Tentative Agreement Vote Resources
Meetings on the TA
Latest Bargaining Update
Answers About Strike Loans, etc.
Solidarity from Allies
Social Media / CTU Speaks! Podcast

General CTU Announcement

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