CTU returns to bargaining in wake of Friday disruption, to push for phased-in return tied to voluntary vaccination; baseline testing for students, staff; accommodations for educators whose household members are at higher risk of COVID-19 illness and death.  

  • 10:00 a.m. TODAY, Saturday, Jan. 29: Virtual rally to be livestreamed to CTU Facebook page. News outlets, see below for b-roll opportunities.
  • 9:30 a.m., assemble/10:00 a.m. start: South Side car caravan. Assemble along Vincennes Ave. north of 83rd St., at Simeon High School. Click link for info.
  • 9:30 a.m., assemble/10:00 a.m. start: Hyde Park/Kenwood car caravan. Line up on 51st St. near Blackstone at Kenwood High School. Click link for more info.
  • 9:30 a.m., assemble/10:00 a.m. start: Car Caravan for Safety. Assemble at Lane Tech parking lot, 2501 W. Addison. See link for directions/route.
  • 10:00 a.m. assemble/11:00 a.m. start: Brighton Park/BOTY/Gage Park/McKinley Park Car Caravan. Click link for directions/route.
  • 10:00 a.m. Assemble, 11:00 a.m. start from 2245 W. Jackson. Near West Side Caravan for Safety, Equity, Trust. See link for info/route.
  • 10:00 a.m. assemble/10:30 a.m. start: Pilsen/Little Village Safe School Reopening Car Caravan. Assemble 16th St. and Miller. Click link for directions/info/route.
  • 10:30 a.m. assemble/11:00 a.m. start: Northwest CTU Caravan for Safe Reopening. Click link for directions/route.
  • 11:00 a.m. Assemble and move off: Old Irving/Kilbourn Park/Hermosa/Belmont Cragin Car Caravan. Assemble Schurz HS., Milwaukee & Waveland. See link for info/route.

CHICAGO—After months of fruitless meetings, CPS has at last begun to get serious at the bargaining table in wake of the State Senate’s passage of a House bill to restore the CTU’s bargaining rights earlier this month. But Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s disruption of bargaining Friday night has delayed an agreement between the CTU and CPS on safely returning to classrooms.

Rank and file educators are stepping up their organizing and outreach this weekend as educators brace for a possible lock-out next Monday, when the mayor is demanding that another 10,000 educators return to school buildings before an agreement is landed. They’ll kick off actions with a virtual rally at 10:00 a.m. TODAY, Saturday, January 30, in conjunction with solidarity car caravans across the city. The virtual rally will be livestreamed from the CTU Facebook page, with guests to include local labor leaders, elected officials and grassroots neighborhood groups.

Before the mayor’s disruption of bargaining derailed negotiations on Friday, the parties were attempting to land language on key sticking points: a phased-in return tied to voluntary vaccinations; baseline testing for students and staff; accommodations for educators whose household members are at higher risk of COVID-19  illness and death, and improvements to remote learning for CPS students.

Over 100 CPS public schools have surfaced COVID cases since the mayor began forcing back pre-K and special education cluster teachers on January 4, even as COVID positivity remains dangerously high in Chicago’s Black and Latinx neighborhoods. Yet Lightfoot continues to insist on reopening all elementary school classrooms on February 1, even as CPS has struggled to implement even the most basic safety protocols at many schools. Only 19 percent of eligible pre-K and special education cluster students returned to classrooms on January 11. The vast majority of the District’s overwhelmingly Black and Brown families have instead stuck with remote learning, as COVID continues to ravage their neighborhoods.

CTU rank and file members have voted to continue teaching remotely as the CTU attempts to land an enforceable agreement on safely returning to schools. Their efforts were bolstered in Cook County Circuit Court on January 27, when a judge issued a scathing rejection of the Cicero school district’s efforts to force back suburban educators, who modeled their campaign against an unsafe reopening on the CTU’s campaign for a safe return to school buildings.

CPS charter operators that include Passages, Epic, Latino Youth and Acero — one of CPS’ largest charter networks — have rejected reopening, choosing instead to remain remote until at least April, when vaccines are more available and the pandemic is under better control.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information please visit the CTU website at www.ctulocal1.org.