Lightfoot’s hand-picked board moves to deny thousands of children access to their teachers and their educations in attempt to force rank and file educators to work under unsafe conditions.
CHICAGO, Jan. 11, 2020—The Chicago Teachers Union issued the following statement today after CPS moved to lock out members from their virtual classrooms and District email and timekeeping platforms for exercising their right to continue to work remotely until their workplaces are safe:
CPS has unilaterally and illegally implemented a plan to resume in-person learning. Teachers, principals, two-thirds of CPS parents, three-fourths of the City Council, and an independent arbitrator do not believe that CPS’s reopening plan is safe.
CTU wants to reach an agreement with CPS on the conditions that will allow school buildings to safely reopen, and we need a willing partner in CPS to do that.
Instead, CPS is threatening to declare teachers “absent without leave” for exercising their right to refuse to work under unsafe conditions and who continue to provide remote instruction. This move by CPS flies in the face of the law, common sense and basic decency. Employees are entitled by state law and our contract to be paid for work they have performed remotely.
A significant majority of CPS parents have opted to keep their children doing remote instruction. CPS is denying these students – who are disproportionately Black and Latinx – access to their teachers by locking teachers out of Google Classroom for refusing to risk their lives. It strains credulity for CPS to declare educators that it is locking out of the system through which their students are receiving instruction as “AWOL.” It is also the opposite of equity, and illegal.
Today, the Illinois State Senate passed by a 38-16 margin a bill repealing the section of Illinois law (section 4.5 of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act) that CPS relies upon in its refusal to bargain over the decision about when and how to safely resume in-person school. That bill becomes law upon Governor Pritzker’s signature. The Union is hopeful and optimistic that will come soon.