Negotiation sessions between Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Teachers Union open to public

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Friday, June 14, 2024
Negotiation sessions between CPS, CTU open to public
The CTU contract runs out later in June, but the issue chosen for the first public negotiation session with CPS is not salary or benefits.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Marquette Elementary School on the Southwest Side is the site of what is believed to be a first for Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union: a public collective bargaining session.

"Open negotiations for the Chicago Teachers Union is about showing our work. We aim to bargain this contract on the front lawn of Chicago," said CTU President Stacy David Gates.

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For over a decade, open negotiations is something CTU has been pushing for. Previous mayors declined, but with one of their own occupying City Hall, CPS agreed.

"This is a great opportunity, frankly, for us to collaborate with the Chicago Teachers Union and really help our public understand some of these very complex issues," said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez.

But the issue chosen for the first public session will not be about the union's 9% salary increase request or benefits. The topic is what CTU calls its Green Schools Initiative.

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

"They're focusing on what they consider reasonable requests to focus on converting about 50 schools to solar, for example, doing a pilot of carbon-neutral schools for five schools," said Better Government Association President David Greising.

For years, CTU has focused on more than salary and benefits. Contract requests include conditions in the schools, especially in Black and Brown neighborhoods. So far, Gates and Martinez say, negotiating sessions have had a friendly tone compared to the friction of contracts in the past which resulted in strikes, but the process is in early stages.

"I don't care who the mayor of Chicago is. This is not an easy endeavor. And we do still have the desires, the needs, the ideas and the imagination and the district will have to meet those things," Gates said.

READ MORE | CTU goes to Springfield to lobby lawmakers for more school funding, CPS CEO agrees $1B needed

It is a tall order with a district that is facing a financial cliff.

"This is a situation where we're taxpayers and voters need to be paying careful attention, because who, really, is defending their interests at this negotiation?" Greising said.

While Friday evening's session is a first, in the coming weeks, taxpayers will have the opportunity to observe more open negotiations between CTU and CPS, including sessions on salary and benefits.