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ctustrike.jpeg WGN-TV
Striking Chicago teachers walk a picket line Thursday morning.

Teachers strike continues in Chicago

Walkout in nation's third largest school district cancels classes for 300,000 students for a fourth day.

Negotiations between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union are at a standstill as classes are cancelled for more than 300,000 students for a fourth day Tuesday.

WGN-TV reports that union negotiators reacted negatively to a letter

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Schools CEO Janice Jackson sent a letter to Union President Jesse Sharkey Monday, urging teachers to return to classrooms as negotiations continue.

"We ask CTU to stay at the bargaining table and accelerate the pace, but end the strike and encourage your members to come back to work. Our students and families should not continue to bear this burden," the letter said.

Hours later, the union rejected the request, saying real progress has happened only since the walkout began.

Union President Jesse Sharkey says the strike may go on longer than anticipated.

"I came in today with raised expectations and hope, but the letter I received today dashed my hope for a quick settlement," Sharkey says.

Earlier: Weekend negotiations had led to some optimism as agreement was reached on several issues, including school counselors, early childhood educators and issues affecting homeless students.

Lightfoot tweeted an update on negotiations Monday and vowed to work around the clock to reach an agreement so students can return to school.

About 26,000 teachers and 8,000 support staff workers—including custodians, special education assistants and bus aides—are on strike. 

District officials say that under its current offer to the union, an average teacher will see salary rise to nearly $100,000. Support staff such as clerks, nurses, and teacher assistants will receive raises exceeding 20% over five years, and many will see their paychecks rise 7 to 14% immediately.

The teachers union has submitted a long awaited counter-offer on class size to district officials, and the union plans to submit language addressing staffing later Monday.

EARLIER: Teachers in Chicago have gone on strike for the first time since 2012.

WGN-TV reports that about 25,000 Chicago Public School teachers hit the picket line Thursday morning after rejecting the district's most recent contract proposal.

The Chicago Teachers Union rallied after formally announcing the strike and accusing Mayor Lori Lightfoot of reneging on her campaign promises.

Thursday classes and activities had been canceled ahead of the strike to give families more time to figure out their childcare options.

Chicago teachers are asking for more pay, smaller class sizes and more staffing. Another sticking point of the teachers union is affordable housing. The union wants access to low-income housing for new teachers and its estimated 16,450 homeless students.

Lightfoot has expressed urgency in getting a deal done, but it’s not clear when or if there will be negotiations Thursday.

Striking union teachers will be joined at the picket line by members of the Service Employees International Union, which represents 7,000 support distric employees, such as bus aides and security guards, who also are seeking a new contract.

The strike is Chicago's first major walkout by teachers since 2012. The strike affects about 300,000 students.

During the 2012 strike, the district kept some schools open for half days during a seven-day walkout. This time, all district school buildings will be open during normal school hours. Students who need a safe place to go are encouraged to attend their regular schools, but will be welcomed at any school that is age appropriate.

 

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