CTU votes to discuss possible 1 day strike after CPS threatens to shorten school year

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The Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates voted to continue discussing action, including a possible one day strike, after CPS announced possible shortened school year. (WLS)

The Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates voted to open up discussion on taking union action, including the possibility of a strike, on May 1 in response to the Chicago Public Schools funding crisis that has the district considering cutting the school year 13 days short.


In another round of the teachers' union against multi-billion dollar budget gaps, all options are on the table.

"We do have the legal right to talk about actions of any kind," said CTU president Karen Lewis at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

In a closed door meeting lasting several hours, the House of Delegates voted to further discuss the option of a one day strike.

"We are supporting the need to have conversations and discuss what is going on in each school because every school community is different. They will go back to their schools and have the meetings," Lewis said.

The vote came as Chicago Public Schools is considering shortening the school year by 13 days as they face a $215 million budget gap.

The spokeswoman for CPS issued a statement saying:

"The Governor's $215 million cut blew a hole in the CPS budget that is forcing painful choices, and we should all work to avoid students losing days of instruction and teachers losing days of pay. We hope that all Chicagoans can stand united against Gov. Rauner's racially discriminatory funding, which is at the root of CPS' funding challenges."

"I think they should try to avoid the strike, but if their needs and demands aren't being met, aren't even being discussed then what else can you do? It's like beating your head against a wall," said Victor Valentine, CPS parent.

"I think there are other ways - signing petitions, working through the parents, their congressman, and see what can be done," said Margaret Heintz-Smith.

But CTU said they've already done that.

"The political leaders of this state made a promise to fund public education and keep school doors open. This is an act of desperation for us," said CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey.

In 2016 CTU members held a one day strike on April 1 amid contentious contract negotiations/ CPS maintained it was an illegal strike and any other job action would also be illegal.

Lewis said the idea for a May Day action trickled up to union leadership from CTU members, and she noted that is an international day to celebrate laborers and unionists.

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