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Dear CTU Members:

I hope your first week back to school went well! If it didn’t, the union wants to hear about it, so reach out to your field rep with issues.

Our push for a fair contract continues—we’ve scheduled three bargaining sessions this week. Progress remains painfully slow on key issues that include expanding prep time (CPS wants to cut prep time), paying PSRPs living wages, REACH grievance rights and more. That said, last week’s unanimous HOD vote to send the question of whether or not to strike to the full CTU membership has sparked a sense of urgency in management.

CPS leaked its toothless staffing proposal to the press. In that proposal, they said they would not privatize clinicians UNLESS they ‘need to’—a loophole that renders their proposal worthless. And in order to secure this ‘agreement’, they expected the CTU to completely drop our staffing proposals. We responded with a substantive and comprehensive counter-proposal that lays out how and on what timetable CPS could staff up in all areas, from librarians and nurses to teacher assistants and case managers. We’re awaiting CPS’ response. The rank and file leader of the CTU Substitute Teacher Committee also presented on our specific proposals to respect and support the work of substitute teachers, who are overworked, underpaid and undervalued. We’re fighting for contract language that ends that mistreatment.

We want to continue to step up the pressure. Our strike authorization vote is scheduled for September 24 – September 26.
A strong YES vote gives us maximum leverage at the bargaining table, so talk to your colleagues and make sure we’ve got 100 percent turnout—and a 100 percent yes vote in your school.  

If your school is strike ready, and if you have 100% strike authorization vote poll results, take a group photo wearing your CTU red and post to Facebook and Twitter using #FairContractNow, #PutItInWriting and #VoteYes—and on Twitter, tag @ctulocal1 so we can see and share! You can also email your pics and videos if you’ve got them to communications@ctulocal1.org.

Why delegates supported a strike authorization vote:

CPS is raking in over $1 billion in additional school funding each year over just a few years ago. Translation: they can afford a quality contract. That additional funding should make schools work for students, families and our members, with:

  • Lower class sizes
  • Wraparound supports
  • Full staffing in our schools
  • Adequate supports for special education students
  • Living wages for all CPS employees
  • Revenue in our school communities—not in the pockets of ‘consultants’ and outside contractors
  • REACH rights for our members, not clawbacks of protections
  • Proven programs like sustainable community schools
  • An end to CPS’ misplaced priorities—from privatization to charter expansion

All 850 other Illinois school districts are required to bargain over these issues. CPS ALONE maintains a special deal that allows them to choose to ignore these critical needs. That is unfair—and it shortchanges our school communities. If we win on our salary demands—5% over three years with no health insurance increase—without progress on some of these other demands, our working conditions and our students’ learning conditions will still be no better off.

We’ve got a wealth of information and resources that you can access on our website’s contract fight landing page—including organizing resources we’re updating daily to help organize parents, fellow members and our schools. As I’ve said before, reach out to your parents and help them understand how we’re fighting for a contract that creates the schools Chicago students deserve. Talk with your coworkers, build up power in your schools and get ready to do what’s necessary—including striking, if it comes to that—in our effort to win real equity and educational justice for our school communities.

In solidarity,

Jesse Sharkey
President, Chicago Teachers Union