Some progress at bargaining table, but Union seeks to land firm commitments for vaccinating students and vulnerable family members, landing terms to minimize COVID spread, as cases mount among young people.

  • 7 a.m. TODAY, Wednesday, April 14: Press conference/bargaining update with CTU officers, table team. Reporters, please see your email for registration link.

CHICAGO—CTU teachers, paraprofessionals, clinicians and support staff in CPS-run high schools are preparing to teach safely — remotely on Wednesday. That job action comes as the CTU continues to negotiate with Mayor Lightfoot’s CPS bargaining team to attempt to land an agreement to safely reopen high schools to in-person learning.

CTU officers, rank and file members and staff will provide a bargaining update to reporters at a press conference via Zoom at 7:00 a.m. TODAY, Wednesday, April 14. Reporters, please see your email for the registration link.

The CTU’s bargaining team met with rank and file members Tuesday evening to report some progress — but no agreement — then returned to the table, where both parties remained until late Tuesday evening.

The CTU has fought hard to land enforceable safety standards for public schools, at last landing a ‘memorandum of understanding’, a binding legal agreement, with CPS in February that sets guardrails to protect students and the educators who serve them.

Still, COVID cases continue to surface in elementary schools. On Tuesday, the Union was learning more details about a COVID outbreak at Armstrong Elementary that has sickened two educators and put many more in the school community in quarantine after COVID entered the school the previous week.

High schools present much greater risk for COVID spread, with students in that age cohort at the heart of the current surge — and vastly more challenging logistical issues around social distancing, particularly in chronically overcrowded schools. That’s of particular concern as alarm grows about new variants’ impact on youth.

The Union is also urging the Mayor hand-picked board of education to consider current proposals at the table as part of a larger effort to shore up student and school community safety and equity needs for the coming 2021/22 school year.

That’s particularly critical for CPS’ overwhelmingly Black and Brown students, most of whom remain learning remotely as their families and neighborhoods continue to be hammered by COVID while they struggle to access vaccines that have disproportionately gone to more affluent, whiter neighborhoods.

CTU members’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions, and in high school bargaining, the Union is still seeking more progress in four key areas: accommodations for medically vulnerable families or those with acute child care issues, modified high school schedules and remote work that minimize the possibility of virus transmission — particularly since the majority of students will remain remote, and vaccines for high school students and their family members.

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.