CHICAGO (WLS) -- SEIU Local 73 ratified their new contract with the city Wednesday afternoon.
SEIU Local 73 represents CPS support staff, serving in roles such as special education classroom assistants, bus aides, custodians as well as school security officers. They were on strike for seven days before reaching a tentative agreement with the city Sunday.
The union said their new contract, which is retroactive to July 1, 2018 and lasts until June 30, 2023, includes substantial pay increases, significant improvements in working conditions, and more resources for students.
The new contract includes pay increases of 17 percent to nearly 40 percent over five years, which CPS can no longer take away under any circumstances, the union said. CPS support staff won up to 40 days of accruable sick time, and bus aides and custodians won back paid vacation time that was taken away in contract negotiations in 2015.
Special Education Classroom Assistants won self-directed prep and planning time, and protections from being used as utility workers or working with the general student population instead of their assigned students.
Finally, the union said CPS support staff will now be included in future discussions about who is cleaning schools and how it should be done.
"This is a victory for working people in Chicago and shows what is possible when we unite and take action," said Dian Palmer, president of SEIU Local 73. "The lowest-paid support workers who are the backbone of our schools are going to see raises that mean their families won't have to struggle as hard living in an expensive city where costs keep going up."
While the union has overwhelmingly voted to ratify their contract, they still stand in solidarity with the Chicago Teachers Union as negotiations between them and Chicago Public Schools continue, and encouraged all members to honor CTU picket lines.
SEIU Local 73, representing CPS support staff, ratifies new contract with the city