Labor board votes in favor of injunction against illegal CTU strikes

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board voted four to one Thursday to grant preliminary injunctive relief in order to prevent illegal strikes by the Chicago Teacher's Union in the future.

The CTU voted for and staged a one-day walkout on April 1 after negotiations over the teachers' new contract stalled. Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool said the strike was illegal, as it took place before a fact finding period was over, and filed suit against the union.

At the hearing, attorney James Franczek argued on behalf of CPS that promises from CTU President Karen Lewis not to strike after that one day action were unenforceable and that "CTU is saying 'we can strike any time we want and whenever we want. When it's all over and done, all we have to do is come back and say "we promise we won't do it again."'"

Representing CTU, attorney Robert Bloch argued that the single day strike was clear in its intent not to last past a single day and not to be repeated.

"Why should the union submit to a court order for something that it does not intend to do?" Bloch asked. "What is the basis to seek such an order? This strike concerned unfair labor practices and lack of funding."

The board sided with the schools, and in her decision Susan Willenborg said that while she believes Lewis was sincere, the union had not conceded its conduct was illegal and injunctive relief is "just and proper."

"We need to make it clear to the union that illegal work stoppages will not be tolerated," Willenborg said.

Claypool released a statement after the ruling, saying in part: "The Labor Board's important ruling gives Chicago families more certainty that the CTU leadership cannot strike illegally whenever they want, and we are gratified that the Board has taken a major step toward injunctive relief against future strikes. Now we return to the bargaining table, in another effort to prevent a strike and the disruption that it would create for Chicago's students, who are making more progress than ever before."

The union also released a statement, saying in part, ""The governor's labor board is prosecuting its war on workers...Former IELRB chairwoman Lynne Sered, who remains on the labor board, dissented and reminded all in attendance that in seeking an injunction against the CTU, the IELRB was ignoring decades of its own legal precedents."

Lewis said on Monday there is a "100 percent" chance of a teacher's strike in late May.