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Last night, the House of Delegates held its first meeting of the new year, and delegates dug into a number of important issues that we want to summarize for members. For more details, please talk to your delegate and ask when the next union meeting in your building will take place. If you’re a delegate and need help setting up a meeting, please reach out to your Field Rep or organizer.

We’ve also decided to make the slide presentation at last night’s meeting available to all members, so if you’d like to go through them, log into your account through MemberLink and check them out. We only ask that you don’t share them with those who aren’t CTU members.

We hope this update gives you some insight into what’s going on at the CTU — and inspires you to plug into our ongoing campaigns and advocacy.

Fighting for expanded parental leave

We continue to push CPS to follow through on expanding the same paid family leave benefits to CTU members that were recently extended to city workers — including through a petition we’ll deliver to City Hall next Wednesday. We have thousands of signatures on our petition, and we’re hoping to get thousands more, so if you haven’t already, please read about the issues and add your name to the petition today.

Next Tuesday, AFT President Randi Weingarten will be in Chicago to lend her voice to this effort. Nearly 80 percent of CTU members are women, and as city workers, we deserve the same rights and benefits that Mayor Lightfoot has extended to other city workers — rights that CPS agreed to provide to our members until they suddenly changed their minds, likely at the mayor’s behest.

Rally and Day of Action in Celebration of MLK Day

On Monday, hundreds of CTU members, SEIU members, neighborhood organizers and progressive champions will meet at the CTU to honor the life, legacy and vision of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (RSVP to reserve your spot).

We see MLK Day not as a day off, but rather a day ON for racial justice, equity and activism. Please join us to help elect the next wave of CTU freedom fighters — including our very own mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson, now a frontrunner in Chicago’s February 28 election! Standing alongside him will be newly elected U.S. Rep. Delia Ramirez, newly elected U.S. Rep. Jonathan Jackson, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Ald. Jeanette Taylor and more.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, check out Brandon’s new “Brandon is better” TV ad!!

Addressing toxins in the workplace

Recently, we learned that CPS had begun removing wipes from some school buildings, possibly because of reports that they contain toxic ingredients — including benzene. We’ve raised this issue — including in our January 11 District-Wide Safety Committee meeting — and are awaiting CPS feedback on what they’re up to and why.

We’re also continuing to follow up regarding concerns about peeling lead paint at McClellan and other schools, which we first addressed with a press conference on December 19. If you have concerns about lead paint in your school building, the CTU Climate Justice Committee will be distributing testing kits during a meeting at the CTU on Thursday, January 19, at 5 p.m. (register here).

Please continue to report issues that your school’s safety committee is unable to resolve, especially if it’s an urgent matter, to the District-Wide Safety Committee at ctulocal1.org/report.

Addressing trauma and preventing violence

Chicago is bathing in trauma borne of poverty, violence, and the ongoing harms of the pandemic — life experiences that our students and families contend with daily, and which our school communities must be equipped to address. Researchers say that everyone experiences trauma, but not everyone gets an opportunity to heal from that trauma. The CTU is now working on a set of demands to address trauma and violence. We are consulting with experts about best practices — and we’re taking a lead from students and staff who are already grappling with these issues daily in their schools.

We also want to hear from you. What are your ideas about how the CTU should advocate around this issue? Take our survey at ctulocal1.org/trauma, and let us know your ideas.

And on Wednesday, February 15, we’ll be holding a “More Love, Less Trauma” public forum to bring together students, educators, and other community members to discuss solutions. This will be an opportunity to hear about people’s experiences and to propose concrete solutions and demands that we can raise collectively in order to address the trauma that so many suffer. We’ll send out more details about the forum as they become available.

A multi-phase campaign that starts with charter contracts

We are at the beginning of a multi-phase campaign that will stretch into 2023, and the first phase is already underway (see slide below, which was presented at last night’s HoD meeting). For months now, there has been ongoing bargaining with 13 charter operators to get new contract for CTU members at those schools. Charter members have held days of action to send a clear message to management that the time is now to settle these contracts fairly.

The main issues at charter schools sound familiar to all CTU educators: better recruitment and retention of educators of color, better paraprofessional pay, better SpEd staffing, better safety and public health in school buildings (from COVID to mental health care), paid parental leave, and equal pay for equal work. Wins in the charter space continue to leverage what we get in the district space, so we’ll be asking district members to take action in solidarity with our charter educators, just as we will ask charter members to take action in solidarity with district members when the district contract expires in 2024.

Endorsements and resolutions

Last but not least, delegates passed a new package of municipal election endorsements, adding the following candidates to our existing endorsements: Victoria “Vicko” Alvarez in the 15th Ward, Ronnie Mosley in the 21st Ward, Denali Dasgupta in the 39th Ward, and Nick Ward in the 48th Ward. Delegates also passed a resolution on national family leave and voted to retain the existing HoD schedule (virtual meetings in February and March, in-person meetings in April, May and June).

In solidarity,

President Stacy Davis Gates

Vice President Jackson Potter

Recording Secretary Christel Williams-Hayes

Financial Secretary Maria Moreno