CTU votes to authorize walkout on April 1

Thursday, March 24, 2016
EMBED <>More Videos

The Chicago Teachers Union has voted to authorize a one-day walkout on April 1.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Teachers Union has voted to authorize a one-day walkout on April 1. Chicago Public Schools officials insist any job action by teachers would be illegal.

With the 800-member House of Delegates vote to walk off the job on April 1, the union is asking for teachers to demonstrate outside their schools on that date at 6:30 a.m. and then go downtown in the evening for a second protest outside CPS headquarters.

In the end 486 union delegates voted for the one day strike and 124 delegates voted against it. CTU President Karen Lewis says those voting no were in favor of a full strike.

"They just feel like, why don't we just do it now? Do a real strike now and be done with it," Lewis said.

Earlier Wednesday, CPS CEO Forrest Claypool addressed the possibility of the one day strike saying, "Our priority will be to keep students safe, fed and engaged on April 1."

CPS responded to the CTU vote in a statement, saying, "We're particularly disappointed that the CTU leadership has given Governor Rauner more ammunition in his misguided attempt to bankrupt and take over Chicago Public Schools. Our children need their teachers in the classroom, while leaders from CPS and CTU remain at the negotiating table. We have already reached a tentative contract agreement with CTU leadership once and there is no reason to believe we cannot again. We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that happens."

Lewis also had sharp words for Gov. Rauner, saying, "We need Gov. Rauner to get off his anti-union turnaround agenda and get a budget done. That's what we need."

Another union is now joining the CTU's fight.

"This is within Gov. Rauner's power to do the will of the people and to maintain and support education funding," said Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

Technically, the one-day strike is about unfair labor practices, not the current contract which is still under negotiation.

"My goal is teachers should be in the classroom teaching our kids and the kids should be at their desks and the other adults in the conference room at the negotiations," Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Both sides have been at the negotiating table since the union rejected what it called a serious contract offer in January. The district argues that any strike before May is illegal because state law requires the pre-strike phase called fact finding to end.

No one will be in school Friday; it's one of three furlough days CPS says will save the district $30 million. The union argues cuts, including bigger teacher pension contributions, is not necessary if CPS works with teachers on pursuing progressive revenue ideas.

"The mayor needs to declare a TIFF surplus and send that money back to the school system," said CTU Treasurer Michael Brunson.

CPS says millions of TIFF surplus dollars already go to the school system. In the meantime, the parent organization Raise Your Hand is not taking a side on the April 1 job action. It says both CTU and CPS need to push for long term funding solutions.

"They are swiping money from our schools, I'm much more concerned about that," says Jennie Biggs of Raise Your Hand.

If they walk off, the teachers will not be paid for April 1 unless they have a doctor's note or proof of emergency.