CHICAGO - Last spring's urging Chicago teachers to save money for a possible strike in the fall was a warning that appears to be materializing. Over 95 percent of the Chicago Teachers Union members participating in a strike authorization last week voted to strike, as soon as October 11th, the union said Monday.
"This should come as no surprise to the Board, the mayor or parents because educators have been angry about the school-based cuts that have hurt special education students, reduced librarians, counselors, social workers and teachers’ aides, and eliminated thousands of teaching positions," CTU's press statement said.
The CTU's governing body will meet Wednesday to determine the next steps, including whether to issue a 10-day strike notice to the Chicago Board of Education. If that happens, the first possible date for a teachers’ strike would be Oct. 11.
"This would be the third work stoppage by the city’s public school educators since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office in 2011," the union noted.
Over 90.6 percent of the members turned out for the vote, 95.6 percent of votes cast voted in favor to strike.
In a message before the strike vote commenced, CTU President Karen Lewis urged members to authorize a work stoppage:
We cannot let the mayor and his CPS CEO continue to make terrible cuts to PSRPs, classroom teachers and special education while slashing after school programs, libraries, counselors and school nurses. Our ability to strike is our most powerful weapon to demand justice for ourselves and our students, so it is imperative that you vote "yes" for strike re-authorization this week.
After we went on strike in 2012, the Board of Ed restored contract language regarding class size; left our steps and lanes intact; backed off increasing health care costs; gave us the ability to grieve evaluations and discipline; implemented a short-term disability system (which gave maternity and paternity benefits to our members for the first time); and stepped back from its proposal to eliminate rights for laid off teachers. Again, we must make our power felt to compel the mayor to take our demands seriously.
We sacrifice—and will continue to sacrifice—for our students and classrooms. In addition to this, however, the district has taken pension holidays costing us more than $2 billion; rescinded a 4 percent salary increase in 2012; closed 50 schools in 2013; and mandated three furlough days last year. Enough is enough. We are not asking for exorbitant raises. We are asking that the mayor and his handpicked Board of Ed properly fund our classrooms with the hundreds of millions available via progressive revenue sources such as the city’s TIF surplus, a corporate head tax and/or taxes on LaSalle Street commodities traders.
This week's vote is to reinforce the democratic sentiment your union made last December when members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. We know that the mayor and the governor will attempt to take away our power through their appointed labor relations board. This is a vote to protect our rights and prepare our buildings for a possible strike. If we remain unified, we will have more power to push our elected and appointed officials to treat us with dignity and respect.
This week, vote "yes" to protect your students, your classrooms and your profession.