There is power in the rank and file — power that comes from transformative leadership in our schools and communities.

Legislative wins stand as a testament to the legacy of Karen Lewis, changing the landscape of public education in Chicago

Passing bills in the Illinois General Assembly is never easy — as our 10-year fight to win an elected school board shows. This year, thanks to member and community support and advocacy, we helped pass key legislation for an elected school board in Chicago, Local School Council empowerment, the full restoration of Chicago Teachers Union bargaining rights and more.

Elected school board

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature in July of House Bill 2908, the historic bill to create an elected representative school board for Chicago, capped a decades-long fight by parents, rank-and-file educators and community activists to provide our school district the same democratic rights afforded to every other district throughout the state. From our statement in June:

Today’s vote represents the will of the people, and after more than a quarter of a century, moves our district forward in providing democracy and voice to students and their families. This is the culmination of a generation of work by parents, rank-and-file educators and activists, who recognized the shortcomings of mayoral control of our schools and demanded better for our children. This is their legacy. This is Karen’s legacy.

Chicago will finally have an elected representative school board, accountable to the people.

Bargaining rights

For more than a decade, our union fought to win back the right to advocate for our students in contract negotiations, with our beloved President Emerita Karen GJ Lewis leading the charge to reverse this injustice.

Karen understood that laws follow social movements. Like every great democratic leader, she nurtured rank-and-file organizing and the creation of legislative and political initiatives to build and sustain our movement for common good demands.

In April, we reclaimed the right to bargain freely for real equity in our public schools, and advance our organizing for. From our statement in the spring:

Those who supported this legislation understand that workers’ rights are human rights. They understand that it was critical to correct the core injustice of the 1995 Amendatory Act and instead return to Chicago educators the central right that every other school district gives its workers: the right without restrictions to bargain for what our students need and deserve.

LSC empowerment

Senate Bill 101 is the product of years of advocacy by the LSCs4All coalition, of which our union is a member. The bill makes several important changes to how LSCs operate. This includes, but is not limited to, restoring full authority to all LSCs — even at schools “on probation,” where CPS had taken away much of the LSC’s power. The legislation also adds a student member from 7th or 8th grades to LSCs, changes rules around quorum to ensure vacancies can be appropriately filled and gives LSCs additional oversight on school improvement plans.

COVID administrative leave and paycheck protections

As we currently face a spike in COVID-19 cases, the need for COVID-specific leave for all school employees facing quarantine for themselves or their children dramatically increases. Our union and SEIU Local 73 understood the need for COVID-19 administrative leave, so we passed a bill during the fall legislative session, House Bill 2778, that ensures paid time off for educational employees forced to quarantine because of their own, or their children’s, COVID-19 illness or exposure. The bill also provides that non-instructional staff are paid for an emergency e-learning day, and restores sick days used this school year because of COVID.

That bill sits on Governor J.B. Pritzker’s desk awaiting his signature. Please call the governor at 312-814-2121 or 312-814-2122, and ask that he immediately sign HB2778.

Previously in the CTU year in review:
Bargaining for a safe return to our schools
New part-time clinician positions for 2021-2022
CTU bargaining units organized at two charter campuses
CPS finally agrees to start paying $25 million in sports funding

Please visit COVID-19 Safety Campaign on our website for the latest on safe return, including important member surveys, and information on upcoming testing events and all-member meetings.