Teachers Rally Downtown For Second Day Of Strike: Class Size, Staff Support Needs Must Be Met, CTU Says

WBBM Newsradio Staff
October 18, 2019 - 6:16 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- CTU and the SEIU closed down several blocks in downtown Chicago in a rally followed by a march as teacher strikes continue for a second day.

The rally was full of sing-alongs with clever changes in lyrics to accommodate their request from the mayor to increase funding, or at least fund the items they say have not been addressed appropriately in contract negotiations.

The march included large numbers of children with no classes to attend as they joined parents and teachers in support of CTU's fair contract rally. 

High school teacher Samantha Godich Smolovich said class size and support staffing issues are still on the table. 

"(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," Smolovich said.

As the march began from Daley Plaza, the group holding signs and chanting became so numerous that they nearly surrounded city hall on all sides in downtown. Streets around the plaza were closed all day and opened at 3:51 p.m., according to the City of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management & Communications. 

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey stopped Friday morning at Benito Juarez High School before heading back to the bargaining table, addressing CPS teachers on the picket line.

"We do want a settlement, but we are not just looking for a quick settlement.We are looking for a fair settlement and a just settlement in the schools," Sharkey said. "Stay strong sisters and brothers, we are winning. We are winning the public, we are moving the bargaining table, and we are going to keep doing that until we get what we all deserve." 

Mayor Lightfoot said the finger is on the CTU to come back to the drawing board.

"The ball's in their court. We put a fulsome, comprehensive offer on the table," Lightfoot said. "They need to respond, in kind; and we need to be at the table, every single day, seven days a week, at least 10 hours a day, until we get a deal done."

The mayor said the reality is not necessarily what we are hearing from the union that its going to take a lot more money.

At a separate city hall conference, Lightfoot fumbled over her words when announcing a new project to add bus-only lanes to the city. Instead of addressing a new partnership between the Chicago Transit Authority, she said mistakenly said teachers — which riled up the crowd and provided comedic relief. 

She called it a Freudian slip, adding, "Dare to dream that we be announcing a cooperation," she said.