CTU President Jesse Sharkey

Chicago Teachers Union

Re-elected CTU President Sharkey Warns Mayor-elect Lightfoot: We're At A 'Breaking Point'

May 18, 2019 - 1:30 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey handily won re-election Friday night and quickly turned his attention to Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot with a warning that if she does not make good on her promises to transform the city's school system, she'll find that teachers will become a major foe.

"We hope that the new mayor makes good on her promises to transform our public schools—if she does, she will find us to be a steadfast ally. If she does not, she will find us to be an implacable foe,” he said in a statement.

The union initially supported Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in the April run-off.

Sharkey and his Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) leadership slate that includes Vice President Stacy Davis Gates, Financial Secretary Maria Moreno, and Recording Secretary Christel Williams Hayes, won with two-thirds of the vote. Challengers from the Members First ticket came in with about one-third of the vote. Sharkey replaced Karen Lewis last September after she stepped down from the role for health reasons. 

One of the first issues Lightfoot will tackle will be negotiating the teachers' contract, which expires in June. The CTU is demanding across-the-board raises of 5 percent, the Sun-Times said, reduced class sizes and staff increases.

Sharkey in his statement said that teachers have reached a "breaking point."

“Over the past several years, we have witnessed the deepest cuts and worst fiscal austerity measures since the state take-over of CPS in 79-80. As a result of the hard work by teachers, students, and parents our schools have made some gains, despite the financial hardships. However, conditions in the classrooms have reached a breaking point—with school-based budgeting disasters, unsanitary conditions, critical staffing shortages, a full-blown legal crisis surrounding special education, insufficient supports for student trauma, the precipitous decline of Black and veteran educators in the classroom, and the list goes on," he said.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel who work in CPS.

Compiled by Erika Hobbs