While Arne Duncan was superintendent of schools in Chicago, he received over $10 million from the Gates Foundation to begin “turning around” low-performing schools. He supported the creation of The Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), which subsequently took over 31 schools, some of which raised test scores but were criticized for pushing out low-scoring students. One of AUSL’s goals was to train teachers for urban schools.
Chicago Teachers Union
Chicago —In an unprecedented remote electronic vote, 71 percent of Chicago Teachers Union members have voted to continue teaching remotely starting Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. Eighty-six percent of rank-and-file members voted from Thursday, Jan. 21 through Saturday, Jan. 23. With this vote, rank-and-file educators will continue teaching remotely, and safely, as they have been doing for months. A message from Chicago Public Schools this afternoon, claiming that “we have agreed to a request from CTU leadership to push back the return of K-8 teachers and staff to Wednesday, Jan. 27,” and seeking to sow dissent and disrupt collective Union action, is inaccurate.
Throughout history, social movement struggles have always been protracted. It’s taken three contract cycles for the Chicago Teachers Union to turn back nearly 40 years of attacks on our public schools. It’s a shift made possible through strike action coupled with a burgeoning national teachers movement—and taking risks to lift up working-class demands that go far beyond traditional collective bargaining.
Over the course of an often-bitter battle, CTU and its sister union, SEIU 73, overcame a series of such ultimatums from the recently elected mayor. Before the strike, Lightfoot had refused to write issues such as staffing increases or class size caps into a contract at all. Following a budget address last week, Lightfoot vowed that there was no more money left for a “bailout” of the school district. But a tentative agreement approved by CTU delegates Wednesday night requires the school district to put a nurse and social worker in every school within five years and allocates $35 million more annually to reduce overcrowded classrooms. Both unions also won pay bumps for support staff who have made poverty wages.
On Wednesday night, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) House of Delegates approved a tentative agreement that betrays all the aspirations of the 24,000 teachers who have been on strike for ten days. At an evening meeting of the delegates, comprised of teachers from each of the city’s schools, CTU leaders rammed through a deal that teachers did not have time to read or discuss. The CTU called the meeting at 6:00 pm to review the 41-page agreement and hold two votes, one to accept or reject the agreement and one to continue or end the strike and return to work Thursday.
Over most of the weekend, CPS (Chicago Public Schools) and the CTU were both more muted in their tone online and to the press. Both sides even suggesting they were close to a deal. That changed Sunday evening when Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot held a press conference where she stated “we are enormously disappointed that CTU cannot simply take yes for an answer.” The mayor was suggesting that the latest CPS proposal says “yes” to all the CTU’s demands. CTU does not see it that way.
The Chicago teachers and staff, numbering 35,000, are on strike for the second time in seven years. And for a second time, the teachers' action has helped spark a social movement. This strike questions to the long-held understanding that unions have no right to make demands beyond work conditions, pay and benefits. The present Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) fight, like the previous one, with its almost daily mass demonstrations, two being over 25,000, takes on the feel of an anti-neoliberal battle. The union is voicing the progressive social demands of a broad sector of the population, who have seen the decay of many social services and living standards for families and for children. The teachers want: smaller class sizes, more social workers, a nurse and a librarian in every school, and more bilingual and special education teachers and staff.
The Chicago Teachers Union’s 2012 strike changed the labor movement in the United States. Not only did it revive the strike—years before the current “wave” of public school walkouts began—but it brought to us a new vocabulary for how to think about public schools, public sector unions, and collective bargaining. Now that CTU is once again striking in 2019, one can see how the ground has shifted. Way back in 2011, as protests rippled around the world and landed in Wisconsin, where public sector workers fought against Scott Walker’s anti-union bill...
As a pink sunrise painted the sky on Thursday morning, horns blared seemingly nonstop from semi trucks, commuters’ cars, a concrete mixer and countless other vehicles. They were all supporting members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and SEIU Local 73, which represents school support staff, on the picket line before dawn outside John A. Walsh Elementary School in Chicago’s heavily immigrant Pilsen neighborhood. At schools across the city, teachers and staff waved signs, blew whistles, chanted and cheered to a cacophony of supportive honking from morning traffic.
The past year of bold worker action in Chicago—which included the nation’s first charter school strikes—is now headed towards a crescendo as teachers and support staff prepare to walk off the job on Thursday. Despite the city’s attempt to box negotiations into being just about salary, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is bringing a holistic approach to bargaining to benefit both their members and students. This means bringing common good demands such as affordable housing and sanctuary schools into the contract negotiations...
More than 25,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and about 7,500 support staffers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 73 are walking out of schools in the nation’s third-largest school district today, joining a wave of teacher strikes across the country that began in early 2018. The strike comes on the heels of other teacher strikes in Oakland, Los Angeles, Colorado and Virginia earlier this year, and is CTU’s first since its eight-day strike in 2012, when teachers sought higher wages, fair teacher assessment and job security, among other issues.
What’s At Stake In Chicago Teachers’ Strike: Whether Unions Can Bargain For The Entire Working Class
“Solving Chicago’s affordable housing crisis? What’s that got to do with a labor contract for educators?” That’s the question the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board asked last week as the city’s teachers and school support staff inched closer to an October 17 strike date, with little progress made in negotiations for a new contract. A standoff at the bargaining table over the Chicago Teachers Union’s (CTU) package of housing demands dominated the city’s news cycle last week. The union is asking Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to provide housing assistance for new teachers, hire staff members to help students and families in danger of losing housing...
The Chicago Teachers Union has been working without a contract since June, and 94 percent of members recently voted to authorize a strike. SEIU Local 73, which represents school workers such as special education classroom assistants, school custodians and bus aides, as well as Park District workers are also set to strike on October 17. The last strike of Chicago teachers in 2012 was a major victory for labor and working people in the city, and helped inspire the wave of teacher strikes that has taken place across the US over the past few years.
Chicago teachers, clinicians and paraprofessional union members voted by a wide margin to authorize a strike, setting the stage for a walkout less than six months into Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s term. Educators could walk out as early as Oct. 7. The union said 94% of its members voted in favor of a walkout. With ballots in from 90% of schools late Thursday night, the vote meets the 75% threshold of support from all active union members required by state law. “This is a clear signal from the members of the Chicago Teachers Union that we need the mayor and the Board of Education to address critical needs across our schools,” said union President Jesse Sharkey.
With the approval of a historic union merger, teachers in Chicago are positioning themselves to mount a greater challenge to privatization and austerity. On Monday, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) announced that its members had voted in favor of amalgamating with the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (ChiACTS), which, since 2009, has organized about 1,000 educators at over 30 charter school campuses. While cooperation between unionized educators at charters and district schools in the United States is common, this is the first known case in which teachers from both types of schools have merged into a single union local. The move was approved by 70 percent of voting members, according to the CTU. In a similar vote last June, 84 percent of ChiACTS members endorsed the merger.