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In last Thursday’s negotiations, we received counter-proposals related to clinicians, sanctuary and leaves of absence. These proposals remain inadequate. While Lightfoot publicly promised last Tuesday to increase staffing for nurses and social workers, per usual, those promises did NOT appear in any counter-proposal from CPS. CPS also admitted that they have zero plans to budget for those ‘promised’ additional positions for the upcoming school year, while at least half of the positions we were promised for the last school year remain unfilled.

We’re done with empty promises. We remain adamant that our January 15 proposals to address these issues—including offering current school community members a path to becoming credentialed to fill frontline positions, and our demand that CPS meet the standards of national professional associations for staffing—be included in our contract. In short, the mayor and CPS need to put it in writing in an enforceable contract—the only way we can hold City Hall and CPS accountable.

No one wants a strike, but it’s the most powerful tool we have to force management to meet our reasonable and affordable demands at the bargaining table. And CPS CAN afford our demands, with a billion dollars a year in new public funding they’re receiving today over 2016. We laid out our case extensively in our report to the factfinder—and it’s long past time for those funds to start showing up in our classrooms and our schools. That’s why we’re working to be ready if necessary to exercise that ultimate form of pressure—a strike—through public actions and community meetings throughout this month as we get ready to return to our school communities. Get more information in ‘Contract Campaign Central’ on our website, check out our resources to help organize at your school, watch your email for updates, check our website calendar for ways to get involved, and contact organizing@ctulocal1.org if you want to volunteer to phone bank or flyer in the coming weeks. And mark your calendars—and please join us—at the following events:

  • August 6: meeting with CTU President Jesse Sharkey on our contract demands, Sultzer Library.
  • August 6: CTU members to meet with 22nd Ward Alderman Mike Rodriguez re our contract demands.
  • August 10: CTU contingent at Bud Billiken parade. Join us at this important community event!
  • August 28: CPS board of education meeting: rally, press conference, board presentation.
  • August 31: Southeast Side Labor Day parade – be there!

Finally, I want to say a few words about the wrenching news of two mass shootings over the weekend, in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas—where the shooter openly touted his racist agenda. It was a grim weekend in Chicago, as well, with 40 people shot as I write this and three dead among those shooting victims. Every victim is someone’s sibling, parent or child. Our students live with the trauma and fear not just of horrific national events but of the violence we confront in our neighborhoods. Children bring that trauma to school with them, and they look to us for help, comfort and healing. Our fight for adequate staffing is built on our commitment to heal our students’ trauma and begin to address the root causes of violence in our city. There is no more important struggle—and if we have to strike to win that struggle, we’ll be ready.

We come together in unity and a rock-solid commitment to fighting for the schools our students, parents and members deserve. The well-being of every member of our school communities, from the littlest preschooler to the most seasoned veteran teacher, depends on our success in this fight—and when we fight, we win.

In solidarity,

 

 

Jesse Sharkey
CTU President

Some of our CTU summer organizing institute members door-knocking at the homes of rank and file members last week. Get a copy of our handout—‘Mayor Lightfoot, can we talk?’—and learn more about our bargaining for the schools our students, families, educators and staff deserve. To get involved, check out our calendar of public events, watch your email upcoming events, or contact organizing@ctulocal1.org.