Another charter strike looms in Chicago as district educators ready for strike authorization vote next week, part of a wave of labor actions that seek to bargain for the common good.
CHICAGO, September 19, 2019—CTU President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement in solidarity with striking auto workers and NNOC/NNU nurses who are preparing to strike Friday, as Local SEIU and the CTU ready for a strike of CPS and another Chicago charter strike looms on the horizon:
Strikes are a tactic of last resort—when bargaining for dignity and basic needs has failed. A strike is workers’ most powerful tool—a way to force those with power, wealth and privilege to treat the rest of us with fairness and respect.
Walking off the job to defend your dignity as a worker is an act of enormous courage—yet that’s exactly what more than 50,000 auto workers did on Monday. These workers sacrificed to keep GM afloat in the wake of the 2007 economic collapse, yet management continues to outsource their work and lowball pay for ‘temporary’ workers. On Friday, nurses organized with NNOC/NNU will strike the University of Chicago Medical Center—one of the wealthiest hospitals in the nation—over threats to the care and safety of patients driven by chronic management short-staffing. Just as GM employees are standing up for equity and justice for their fellow workers, NNOC/NNU nurses are standing up for their patients.
This Monday, educators at Passages Charter School in Chicago will do the same when they take a strike authorization vote—in what could be the fourth strike of Chicago charter operators in the last twelve months. They oppose management’s mind-boggling refusal to agree to sanctuary language for the school’s immigrant student population, and chronic understaffing for the school’s special education students and English language learners. Passages workers are standing up for their low-income immigrant and special needs students.
Low-wage janitors, bus drivers, special education workers and others with SEIU Local 73 have already voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against CPS—and rank and file members of the CTU will vote next week to authorize a strike, as well. All of these union members are fed up with management’s chronic refusal to pay its lowest wage workers a living wage or adequately support CPS’ overwhelmingly low-income Black and Brown students.
These strikes are about more than wages and benefits—because a striking worker literally sacrifices both. These strikes seek to end exploitation and protect the people who rely on us, be they our own families and neighborhoods, desperately sick patients or Black and Brown students in poverty. At its core, each of these strikes is about fighting for the common good. We all benefit when a giant multinational corporation like GM, which has relied on publicly funded bailouts to survive, is forced to treat workers and the families and communities they support with dignity. We all benefit when nurses are able to force management to provide better care for the sick. We all benefit when educators and support staff fight for—and win—the supports that working class children need to succeed as students.
Every successful contract negotiation—even when it takes a strike to get there—shows the people of this nation what is possible when the power of collective action is anchored in mutual aid and deployed for the greater good. The common good has been in the cross hairs of corporate greed and Wall Street profiteering for decades. These striking workers aim to reverse that—and our union is proud to stand with them.