Spotlight on mayor's relationship with CTU, with contract negotiations set to begin

Sarah Schulte Image
Thursday, April 18, 2024
With contract negotiations set to begin, spotlight on mayor, CTU
With CTU contract negotiations set to begin, the spotlight is on Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson's relationship with the CPS teachers union.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As negotiations over a new contract with the Chicago Teachers Union get set to begin, a spotlight is being shined on Mayor Brandon Johnson's relationship with the CTU.

On Thursday, the mayor and union leadership united to talk about the role of schools in communities, and how they can help neighborhoods.

Johnson asked students about success and what they need to be successful at Collins Academy in North Lawndale.

He sat with leaders of the national, state and Chicago Teachers Union.

"It won't be a contract fight. It will be an organizing campaign. We are all going to organize around the idea: Your humanity matters," CTU President Stacy Davis Gates said.

Unlike negotiations in the past that resulted in strikes, the teachers union and the mayor CTU helped put in office are on the exact same page when it comes to union demands.

"This is making sure that every single child has a library, a librarian, wrap-around services, class sizes that are manageable. There is a lot of work to be done," Johnson said.

In addition, Johnson and the teachers union are pushing for Chicago Public Schools to become a sustainable school district, meaning schools in low-income areas would provide community-wide wrap-around services.

CTU's contract demands are costly during a time when CPS faces an almost $400 million deficit, and COVID federal funds dry up next year.

SEE ALSO: CTU contract negotiations start with union delivering demands to Chicago Public Schools officials

It's not clear if Johnson would be willing to say no to the union that once employed him.

"This is not about getting to a 'no.' This is about getting to a vision where we have sustainable community schools that allow further maximum amount of growth and experience," Johnson said.

The mayor and Davis Gates are counting on more money from Springfield. They say if the state fully funds CPS, the district is owed $1 billion.

Currently, state lawmakers are working on a bill that prevents any changes to Chicago selective enrollment and magnet schools.

Johnson and Davis Gates strongly oppose the legislation.

"Voting for that bill means the children in this school that just told us very clearly they need more will result in them getting less," Davis Gates said.

The mayor instead said state lawmakers should spend their time making sure CPS is fully funded by the state.

The CTU contract ends in June, and negotiations are expected to begin soon.