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Is it legal to strike April 1?

The Chicago Teachers Union officers’ strike proposal is legal. No judge or legal authority has ruled such a strike illegal. When Chicago Public Schools refused to pay CTU members our lanes and steps, we contend that was an unfair labor practice.

CPS will try to intimidate and divide our members by threatening retaliation and saying it is illegal. Unions can, however, withhold their labor to protest violations of labor law. In 2012 the mayor tried to declare our strike illegal, even though we played by their rules. We fully expect these threats again. CPS cannot replace 27,000 educators. When we are united and build strong alliances, there is little they can do to stop us.

Why are we asking members to strike on April 1?

CTU leadership is asking membership to strike on April 1 to demand revenue for our schools, and to build our momentum by joining with thousands of parents, community members and other labor organizations. This action would need to be approved by the CTU House of Delegates.

If the Union’s elected delegates vote on March 23 to strike on April 1, we are asking members to start picketing their schools at 6:30 a.m. and not go to work. This is not a “walk out” or abandonment of children in classrooms. There will be other activities around the city throughout the day, in conjunction with other union workers, to demand the revenue needed to fund our schools and other services.

What should I tell parents?

Tell parents that their children deserve fully-funded schools, and that we, as educators, along with their families and communities, have the power to lead the city in a fight against the mayor and governor’s attacks. Ask them to join us as we stand ready to strike and lose one more day of pay to demand that the city and state put money back into our schools.

Why the April 1 date?

CPS said they were taking away 7 percent of our pay starting with our April 1 paycheck. We anticipated that members would want to take action against that large pay cut and started making plans for an Unfair Labor Practice strike that day, which included getting other unions and groups on board to bolster our strength. CPS then said it would not take the 7 percent pay cut on April 1, but could do it on any other day following the fact finding period.

We acknowledge that it would have been best to have scheduled a meeting immediately after the Board of Ed rescinded the threat of the pick-up, but our House of Delegates emergency meeting was already scheduled for March 23.

Why not strike on furlough days?

The furlough days were announced after we had started making plans for April 1 and are not good days for this action for these reasons: a) March 25 is Good Friday; b) the last two days of school in June are furlough days and don’t have the same strength of purpose and universal participation as a strike day; c) other unions started the ball rolling for April 1 before we found out CPS was not giving us a pay cut that day; and d) The revenue solutions we need from the state will emerge in April (the Legislature is not scheduled to be in session in June), and our allies at Illinois universities and social services are facing devastating cuts due to Springfield inaction.

Are the furlough days enough for us to claim that the Board has engaged in bad faith bargaining, giving us legal precedent to legally strike?

Furlough days are not considered bad faith bargaining. CPS unfortunately has the right to call furlough days regardless of our contract. 

What are the other groups taking part in the April 1 Day of Action?

Labor Groups
University Professors of Illinois Local 4100
Northeastern University Illinois Faculty Union
Chicago State University Faculty Union
Fight for $15
United Electrical Workers Western Region
Alliance of Charter School Teachers and Staff 4343
SEIU Healthcare Indiana, Illinois and Missouri
Cook County College Teachers Union Local 1600
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308
Jobs With Justice
Illinois Association of Retired Americans
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
SEIU Local 73

Community Groups
Teachers for Social Justice
Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization
Brighton Park Neighborhood Council
Black Lives Matter Chicago
ONE Northside
Parents 4 Teachers
St. James Lutheran – Acts of Love
Village Leadership Academy
Journey for Justice
Black Scholars for Black Lives
Northside Action for Justice
Logan Square Neighborhood association
Communities United
350 Nation
Bridging While Black
Love & Protect
Black on Both Sides
Action Now
Pilsen Alliance
A Just Harvest
Chicago Light Brigade
Chicago Teacher Solidarity Committee
33rd Ward Independent Ward Organization
Westside Accountability Chapter of Democracy for America
InCrease the Harvest

Are the other labor unions that support the April 1 action striking as well, or are they just endorsing our action and coming to the rally in the evening?

Some of our allies also will not be at work that day. More specific information will be provided as it comes in.

Is the CTU at risk of participating in bad faith bargaining if we decide to strike prior to the conclusion of fact finding? And could this strike de-certify our union if it was deemed illegal?

No. We are still at the bargaining table. There is no law in place that would allow de-certification based on this one day of action.

What happens to those who are on maternity leave on April 1? Do they lose a day of pay?

If the schools are shut down, then CPS will not pay anyone, including those on maternity leave.

What should subs do if called to report to schools on April 1?

Subs should absolutely not go to work that day—they should join the picket lines.

Will there be repercussions if we strike April 1?

CPS will not be able to implement repercussions against all of our members other than what they were already planning to prior to April 1—cut pay, increase class sizes, strip special education services, open charter schools, refuse to find additional revenue, etc. If there are any repercussions, they will likely fall on union leadership, not individual members. If we stand together as one, we are all safe.

Do we have to wait to the end of the cooling off period to do an open-ended strike? Why not start a strike April 1 and keep it going?

There are legal repercussions if we start an open-ended contract strike before the end of the “cooling off” period, which is mandated by state law.

What will happen if students and some staff show up April 1?

If the March 23 House of Delegates meeting approves the April 1 action, we will publicize it to ensure that parents know to join us or to make other arrangements that day. Our goal is to have all staff participate in this action.

If we are out April 1, can CPS cancel our health insurance?

You do not need to be present on the first of every month to activate your insurance. If your employee status is active, you have health insurance.

ILLUSTRATION: Feb. 17 walk-in