Rank-and-file Chicago Teachers Union bargaining team members discuss City Hall allegations of Union delays.

CHICAGO, Oct. 7, 2019—Chicago Teachers Union bargaining team members remain firm in their position when it comes to class sizes, wraparound services, special and bilingual education support, and the need for increased nurse, librarian, counselor and social worker staffing following a prop-laden press conference this morning from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools officials.

Union members routinely offer counter-proposals to the district’s terminally inadequate actions that are featured on both the CTU website and also in a series of video bargaining reports to members, but the consensus from the rank-and-file bargaining team is that the Board has done more stalling and stonewalling during negotiations than actual bargaining.

These 50 rank-and-file members have provided substantive proposals to the city since January—months before Lightfoot took office—to which the city finally responded on July 3.

“Out of one side of their mouth, they’re talking about what they want to do to help families, but they bring none of that to the bargaining table in terms of in staffing, class size and things that matter to all of the families that have children in Chicago’s public schools,” said Monroe Elementary School teacher Lori Torres.

Springfield lawmakers changed the state funding formula for education two years ago to provide the district with $1 billion additional dollars in funding for Chicago’s public schools, yet educators have to beg for school nurses and school social workers.

It has been six months since the mayor’s team defended giving wealthy developer Sterling Bay $1.4 billion in taxpayer money—in writing. Meanwhile, CPS has some of the highest class sizes in the state, but it has been 22 years since educators have been able to win class size caps in writing.

“Fifty pages of counter-proposals from the Board means they’re watering down what we’re trying to win for our students,” said Robin Blake Boose, who has taught second grade classes of 40 students at Ashe Elementary School. “It doesn’t take more than a sentence to say, ‘Put your promise in writing.’”

Aramark was handed the contract for janitorial services five years ago and that agreement was renewed, in writing, yet many Chicago public schools remain filthy with teachers, paraprofessionals, librarians and school staff handling the bulk of the cleaning work.

“I find the Board’s proposals offensive to the families of our communities,” said Ruiz Elementary special education teacher Paula Barajas. “To hear the Board and Mayor Lightfoot continually go in the media and say that they’re promising to do things, but when they come to bargaining, they don’t do any of that for the families and children of our communities…it makes me so angry that they do this.”

It has been six years since CPS closed the largest number of Black schools in U.S. history, and nurse, clinician, counselor and social worker staffing remains well below national recommendations. Teachers and school staff routinely have to scramble to provide medical services for students because schools are understaffed and privatized services are inadequate.

“While CPS says they’re ‘interested’, they have yet to put anything in writing,” said clinician Emily Penn. “We can’t even get them to respond to our proposal to ensure that social workers have private space to meet with and support students.”

It has been six months since Mayor Lightfoot promised to provide our school communities equity and justice. Today, she can do just that by putting class size caps and proper staffing of school librarians, nurses, social workers, clinicians and counselors in writing.