Rally Brings Hundreds of Labor Union Representatives Out For Teacher Strike Support

Mike Krauser
October 26, 2019 - 1:20 pm
Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey joined teachers and support staff Friday on the picket line at Lane Tech College Prep High School.

WBBM Newsradio/Mike Krauser

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Hundreds of labor union members rallied today in Union Park in a show of support for striking Chicago teachers as bargaining continues with a goal of getting an agreement that would end the strike in time for classes to resume on Monday. 

In a passionate speech surrounded by teachers, labor unions and media, CTU President Jesse Sharkey spoke on the importance of the weeklong strike and the impending agreement.

"This is not a moment, this is a movement," Sharkey said. "This is a movement for education justice in our city."

Juan Campos, from the Teamsters local 705 union, the country's largest and most diverse labor union, expressed support with CTU.

“Your fight today is our fight today," Campos said, a CPS graduate. "Your passion is our passion. Your victory is our victory. Our members honor CTU and SEIU 73 picket lines. We stand with you. We’ll lose fighting alone. The bosses’ biggest fear is seeing us working together.”

Members with the Chicago Federation of Musicians, the Illinois Education Association, AFSCME 31, representing the state's public service workers, the Association of Flight Attendants, a Wisconsin labor union and Working Families Party also spoke at the rally.

He said the negotiations are at a sensitive standstill about class size, staffing and better pay for support staff but he said a deal is within reach. He said he wants to go back to school along with the other unions — but it needs to be for a just deal.

"To make it worth it, it’s gotta be real," he said. "We need counselors to help our students, we need a nurse in every school, we need smaller class sizes... and we’re gonna do it together.”

On Friday night, he said bargainers had made progress and it was important for both sides to work hard to resolve lingering issues.

“Hopefully, we can get over the hump, but I will say that it still requires some resources and it still requires some will from the political leadership of the city,” Sharkey said.