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  • Pickets at four unionized CICS schools: 6AM , Tuesday, Feb. 5. See below for locations.
  • Protest/press conference: 1PM Tuesday, Feb. 5
    CICS headquarters, 11 East Adams St., Chicago. NOTE: if CICS brings in strikebreakers from CSTN, the protest will move at 2PM to CSTN offices at 73 W. Monroe.

Union will strike Tuesday unless a deal is reached with management in the final hours of bargaining tonight. CTU educators continue to reject management demand that teachers’ raises come with cuts to student programs, social workers, counselors—and wage stagnation for paras.

CHICAGO—Almost 200 unionized educators at four schools run by charter operator CICS—Chicago International Charter Schools—have a simple message for management: we will not trade teachers’ raises for cuts to vital frontline staff or programs, and paraprofessional ‘raises’ that, after inflation, amount to a pay cut.

Unless a deal is reached with management in the final hours of bargaining Monday night, educators will jumpstart their picket lines on Tuesday at 6AM at four unionized CICS schools:

At 1PM Tuesday, striking CTU educators will hold a press conference and picket at CICS headquarters, at 11 E. Adams in downtown Chicago. If CICS brings in strikebreakers from contractor CSTN, the picket line will move at 2PM to CSTN offices at 73 W. Monroe.

The CTU has been bargaining for a new contract with CICS management since last May, around demands that include better wages and more support for student needs. Management, which is sitting on a $36 million surplus of public funds, is insisting on the ‘option’ to fund teachers’ wage increases with larger class sizes, cuts to counselors, social workers and student programs—along with the continuation of rock-bottom wages for paraprofessionals and the elimination of paid parental leave for staff.

Low wages and poor working conditions have driven huge turnover at CICS schools, and forced some classes to be staffed not by subject-trained teachers but by lower-wage paraprofessionals, some of whom make as little as $30,000 per year or less, even with masters’ degrees.

CICS’ massive ‘reserves’ of public funds include almost $20 million they’ve invested with a company owned by CICS co-founder and former president Craig Henderson. Management is also insisting on maintaining the legal fiction that the charter management organizations it owns and controls do not themselves have the funds to increase resources for students and educators. The charter operator has created a series of pinstripe patronage jobs in recent years that has seen the number of six-figure CICS staff rocket up from four in 2017 to 14 today, while upwards of 30% of the public dollars CICS receives never make it back to schools for classroom needs. CEO Elizabeth Shaw, who oversees 14 schools, earns nearly as much as CPS CEO Janice Jackson, who oversees close to 600 schools.

According to CTU calculations, management would have to allocate less than 10% of the cash they’ve siphoned away from schools and are currently hoarding to save the jobs of counselors and social workers, provide wages equivalent to CPS wages, cut class sizes, and end the destructive impact that high staff turn-over has on students’ educations and lives.

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.