After Months Of Negotiation Talks, Strikes, Small Victory For CTU — But Union Says It's Not Over

Jim Gudas
October 18, 2019 - 7:45 pm

CHCAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Chicago Teachers Union says it’s achieved a victory in contract talks with the school board to end the teachers strike, but the union says there are still other hurdles to clear. 

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said after months of claiming it couldn’t be done, the school board offered written proposals for staffing levels for nurses and social workers in city schools.

"We are not just seeking a fast deal — we are seeking a just deal," Sharkey said. 

Sharkey added that the written proposals show the city is feeling the pressure from the strike and from what Sharkey calls community support for teacher demands. He said teachers are prepared to stay off the job as long as it takes.

Sharkey said the union still plans to hold out for issues such as class size, pay, affordable housing and services for homeless students.

At a downtown rally that lasted several hours and blocked traffic, teachers stood their ground on those important issues.

"(We want) smaller classes, a librarian at every school, nurses everyday because you don't always get sick only on Tuesday afternoons, adequate counselors and clinicians so students can be ready to learn and make the progress they need to make," said High school teacher Samantha Godich Smolovich. 

In a statement on today's negotiations, Lightfoot said her team has focused on building equity and targeting greater supports and investments to the areas of greatest need from the beginning of the talks.

"We believe this is a vision we share with the Chicago Teachers Union, and so we are encouraged that today’s negotiations were productive and yielded real movement on a number of key issues, including staffing for clinical groups, special education, and supports for Students in Temporary Living Situations," the statement read.

"Today, we also presented an updated offer on staffing that would go above and beyond the unprecedented public commitments we made over the summer to hire hundreds of additional social workers, nurses and case managers while prioritizing resources for the schools that need them most. With this new offer on staffing in addition to our updated offer on class size, we are working to address the core issues that CTU has said are central to reaching an agreement – in writing," she continued.

Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson said they are committed to bargaining with urgency and said in order to strike the deal, there needs to be a desire to compromise.

"Our offer raises the average teacher’s salary to nearly $100K, provides a nurse for every school, and protects the academic progress our students have made in the past decade," CPS said in a statement on its Facebook on Oct. 19. 

Contract negotiations continue this weekend.