Rally at New Mt. Pilgrim MB Church
Civil rights icon Rev. Dr.William Barber II gave an impassioned message of solidarity and support for our education justice fight on Sunday, when he addressed a crowd at the New Mt. Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church on the west side of Chicago. Also on hand to fire up the crowd
were SEIU Local 73 member Evelyn Davis-West, CTU Recording Secretary Christel Williams-Hayes, City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin, and Cook County Board Commissioner and CTU member Brandon Johnson. Ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around!
Extended Telephone Town Hall
As our strike moves into its eighth day on the lines, our members have sat on the edges of their seats, wanting to know where we are in bargaining and where we expect we’re going. The bargaining team, officers and staff have provided information through the MemberLink Portal and they also spent a full 75 minutes on a Tele-Town Hall, tonight, taking questions and explaining how things are going. Members were concerned about a number of things, but the message from callers and from the team is that we will put our all into bargaining and into holding strong picket lines, to make sure we get significant change for our classrooms. Bargaining details are recapped below.
Our bargaining team left negotiations at 9:30pm tonight with the same deal on the table as when they left at midnight last night. That deal we proposed would settle this contract at a cost of only $38 million more per year. This lack of movement is despite the fact that CEO Janice Jackson showed up to negotiations for the first time. We had hoped that was a positive sign, but it changed nothing for us at the table.
SEIU 73, however, did get a deal. They won significant pay increases, which should help us win better pay for PSRPs in our contract. Despite having a deal, SEIU members will be walking picket lines with us tomorrow, as they go through their ratification process. This contract represents a win that comes from our solidarity—a solidarity that will last.
VP Stacy Davis Gates spoke to frustrated parents tonight as a mother, herself, of three Chicago Public Schools students. She reminded people that most of what we’re fighting for now will not follow members home, but will stay in our schools and support our students. She pointed out that nine out of ten majority-Black schools lack a librarian and said that the biggest gap is in offers over Special Education, which has been so infamously under-resourced that CPS is under an ISBE monitor for violating students’ rights.
Both Stacy and President Jesse Sharkey highlighted the hypocrisy and misrepresentations from the CPS team. Not only has CPS misrepresented facts by claiming they’ve offered the average teacher $100,000 per year, or claiming that we’ve offered no proposals (while simultaneously claiming our proposals would cost billions), or that our demands cost $100 million per year, or that the mayor would bring education justice (while failing to bring it to the table). President Sharkey pointed out the hypocrisy of CEO Janice Jackson claims that our demand to have prep time to meet with parents in the morning would cut student instructional time, at the same time that the mayor says she will not make up the days from the strike. “That’s purely punitive, that’s an attempt to try and punish us for standing up for what is right in our schools.”
About that hypocrisy, Jesse closed by saying:
And, if that’s where this is going to go, then the mayor has underestimated the resolve of teachers in this town. The mayor has underestimated the resolve of people in our communities because we are fighting for what is right in this city. We need librarians in our schools. We need class size relief across our whole city, not just in some parts of it and we are going to stand for what we think is right and that’s the way this story is going to go.
Picket Lines at 6:30 a.m.
Our strength on the picket lines has been the backbone of this strike. We still have some ways to go before we have the kind of contract that will allow us to come back to school with our heads high. The public needs to see you out there, standing strong and united, to know that we are sticking together for the schools kids deserve.
On the Tele-Town Hall, President Sharkey reminded listeners that the unity and solidarity we are sharing with one another on the picket line will also be necessary when we go back to work. The best form of contract enforcement is when educators at a school decide together what change they will expect from their principal and stick together in demanding it. Your Professional Problems Committee is key to this school-level enforcement. PPC’s need to meet regularly, hear from members and be backed up by members standing united. President Sharkey suggested to members that they talk on the picket lines about what change in their school they want to demand when they get back to work. Look in the current contract for a provision that already exists and decide on some goals and activities that might help you get there. Your unity today can lay the groundwork for change tomorrow.
Youth-led march and sit-in at City Hall
At 9:30 a.m., students will march from 719 S. State St. to City Hall, with a target arrival at City Hall at 10 a.m. This action is youth-led and youth centered, with an open invitation for allies and teachers to attend to support our students! The goal is to lift up youth experiences in CPS schools and support CTU fight for a fair contract! Youth-Led Plan for tomorrow: Meet at Chicago Freedom School (719 S State St). Begin to march to City Hall at 9:30 a.m. Arrive at City Hall at 10 a.m. Sit-in will occur from 10:05-10:45 a.m. – for 40 minutes, representing 40 overcrowded classrooms. The action will include 20 minutes of art-making outside and 20 minutes of chanting and youth speakers.
Afternoon free. Although…
After pickets Monday, the CTU has not planned any afternoon activity. Feel free to rest or take part in any productive activity of your choosing. We have heard that President Trump might be in town. If any members were inclined to show up outside his fundraiser in red, that would qualify as productive, in our view.
U of I admissions relief for our students
Please pass along to students and parents as necessary: We learned from a parent Sunday that the University of Illinois is offering those students who would normally be working with counselors to apply to their admissions office for fee waivers, some relief in their college application process. That includes making exceptions for fee waivers submitted after November 1 if necessary in order for students still to be considered for early action. People with questions should call the U of I at 217-333-0302 or email the Admissions Office.