Board of Ed President del Valle signs pledge to advocate for needs of school district’s most vulnerable learners, as Chance the Rapper sends shout-out to CTU strikers from SNL.
CHICAGO, October 27, 2019—With Saturday’s bargaining session stretching over fourteen hours of negotiations, the Chicago Teachers Union is pushing for a tentative agreement that will bring 25,000 educators and 300,000 students back into the classroom—and bring students and school communities real equity and educational justice in an enforceable contract.
Saturday night, the CTU submitted a three-year counter-proposal to CPS’ latest offer that establishes enforceable class size limits plus additional class size relief in high needs schools; adequate staffing of nurses, librarians, restorative justice coordinators, social workers, case managers, counselors and other clinicians; fair wages for paraprofessionals that will lift them out of poverty; fair compensation for veteran teachers who have received minimal raises for the last eight years; additional funding for sports programming; the restoration of elementary teachers’ morning preparation period; and the settlement of a pending unfair labor practice charge by rescinding CPS’ illegal January 2019 increase in employee health insurance costs.
CPS left bargaining around midnight without accepting the deal, which is about $38 million more than the board’s last offer—about half a percent of the districts $7.7 billion annual budget. Bargaining resumes Sunday.
The CTU’s counter-proposal Saturday evening is built on the federal mediator’s Friday supposal, which the CTU’s rank and file bargaining team formally accepted Saturday evening. Supposals in mediation are typically crafted with a mediator’s support to help the parties in bargaining find a path to a tentative agreement on a package of outstanding issues, based on the mediator’s understanding of the positions and capacities of both parties at the table.
The federal mediator joined the negotiations in May, and has been at the table and working with both parties for more than 50 bargaining sessions.
Saturday’s marathon bargaining session came on the same day that special education teachers, parents and allies gathered near the home of Board of Education President Miguel del Valle to canvass the community and press del Valle to sign a pledge protecting special needs students.
del Valle met strikers and parents at a nearby park as they gathered, and signed the pledge to advocate for a CTU contract that protects the rights of students with disabilities by ensuring dedicated case managers, reasonable workloads that allow teachers and case managers to meet the needs of students, and protections for the legal rights of students with disabilities.
The CTU’s Saturday night proposal would embed enforceable language in the contract that would realize that pledge. del Valle, who carved out a record in the Illinois Senate as a passionate advocate of public education, called the 1995 legislation that stripped CTU members of their right to strike explicitly over class sizes and student staffing needs the worst piece of education legislation he had ever seen.
One highlight in an otherwise grueling day of bargaining came during the broadcast of Saturday Night Live, where host Chance the Rapper came onstage wearing a CTU sweatshirt and sent a shoutout to strikers across the city. Bargaining team members have vowed to harness the growing outpouring of public support for their battle for equity and educational justice back at the bargaining table—for as long as it takes to land an agreement that puts the school district on a solid path to securing the schools that Chicago’s students deserve.
Tonight’s bargaining team press availability was livestreamed on the CTU’s Facebook page.