It’s Finally Over!
Written by Michale Giovanni on November 4, 2019
It’s Finally Over: How the Chicago Teachers Union Strike Will Change the CPS System Forever
By Donte Chase Bridges
“It was important to me to make sure that we got our kids back in class. Enough is enough,” – Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Chicago, IL- October 17th marked the beginning of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) Strike that became the longest holdout since 1987. The initial reason for the hard-fought protest included key issues, such as low wages, overcrowded classrooms, insufficient staffing, and opportunities for low-income housing for the 16,400 homeless students. Thousands of CPS employees took to the streets of Chicago in a negotiation tactic to change the (incremental) 16% pay increase over 5 years to an (overall) 16% increase in wages.
Compensation for 11 Missed Days
The Chicago Teachers Union also demanded to be compensated for the 11 missed days of School and that the days be added to the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Mayor Lori Lightfoot finally came to a mutual agreement of 5 days, making both parties satisfied and keeping teachers eligible for their current insurance policy.
Mayor Lightfoot Demanded the Strike to Stop
Mayor Lori Lightfoot insisted that CTU end the strike because it affected the students more than the teachers. CTU members felt that Mayor Lightfoot indirectly projected her disappointment on Chicago Public Schools students by decreasing their instructional time. Nonetheless, the mayor gave a statement suggesting that CPS officials have done all that they can to meet Chicago Teachers Union halfway, and she feels that the ball is in their court.
“We have negotiated hard on every issue. They are critically important for the contract. We put it in writing; so, we have done everything that they’ve asked and more. So, I’m hopeful that they see that the contract is one of value. Half a billion dollars isn’t something to sneeze at,” said Mayor Lightfoot.
The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) finally gets Their Contract
On Thursday, October 31st, 2019, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) have finally agreed to a tentative contract agreement that will allow Chicago Public Schools to start classes this Friday, November 1st. Contractual agreements were made on Wednesday for CTU members to return to class, but critical issues not being addressed caused Chicago Teachers Union Protesters to rally at City Hall yesterday morning.
“In the interest of our students and our parents who’ve been suffering, it was important to me to make sure that we got our kids back and class. Enough is enough,” expressed Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
What’s included in the CTU Tentative Contract Agreement?
The tentative contract agreement for the Chicago Teachers Union includes the following:
- Raises for Veteran Teachers.
- 16% raise for CTU and SEIU Local 73 members.
- Five-year contract.
- Class size restriction.
- A decrease in insurance deduction cost.
- Teachers and Support Staff increase.
- More Sick-Days.
- More Staffing.
- Low-Income Housing Agreements for Teachers and Students.
- Additional SEIU Support Staff.
- Additional Nursing Staff
Why the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) Rejected Mayor Lightfoot’s first offer.
The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) rejected the initial contract offer given by newly inaugurated Mayor Lori Lightfoot of 500 million dollars because it didn’t cover the cost to reduce class sizes, as well as include a budget to increase Staffing- estimated to be an extra 100 million dollars. Also, CTU President Jesse Sharkey believed that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) were not honoring their fiduciary responsibilities to make all funds available when contract negotiations started.
“We just found out about another 100 million dollars from the CPS, and we need 38 million dollars of it in order to seal the deal,” expressed CTU Representatives.
CTU President Jesse Sharkey Turns down Mayor Lightfoot’s Announcement Invite.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot invited the president of Chicago Teachers Union Jesse Sharkey to a conference to announce agreement have been completed. In spite of our offer, Sharkey turned down the invitation, stating that there were more pressing issues to attend to.
“I just didn’t feel like doing a celebration lap with the mayor right now. That’s not what our teachers need to be looking at; that’s not what our members need to be looking at,” proclaimed CTU President Jesse Sharkey.
The Service Employee International Union Local 73 (SEIU) signed a tentative agreement with CPS on Tuesday, giving them rights to increase wages and staff support as well. In unison with CTU, SEIU Local 73 agreed to stay on the picket lines with CTU members until their contracts were completed to establish solidarity for both sides. The SEIU Local 73 is comprised of support staff for Chicago Public School teachers. Titles and roles that are included are:
- Security officers
- Bus aides
- Teacher assistants
- Special education teachers
- Lunchroom attendance
Mayor Lori Lightfoot also expressed the lessons she has taken from the trying strike.
“I’ve learned a lot. I think I need to have a moment to reflect on it. But, we’ve learned a lot from this,” Lightfoot said. “I think it’s time for us to move on and focus on our kids. I look forward to watching Simeon on Saturday play and be victorious.”
Simeon High School Football is saved from Playoff Elimination
The CTU Strike has affected more than the lives of CPS employees. According to Illinois High School Athletics (IHSA), multiple teams had been forced to forfeit games because of CPS rule requiring 2 days of official practice per week for any team competing in Chicago high school athletics. Playoff-bound Simeon Career Academy was more than relieved to hear that the CPS, along with IHSA, enacted a rare rule that allows Chicago high school teams only 2 days a week of practice to be playoff eligible.
“We feel fantastic we’re ready to get back on the football field and show people what we’re made of because it was taken from us once already,” explained Simeon football Player.
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