As CPS Students Return To School, A Possible Teacher Strike Looms

Nancy Harty
September 03, 2019 - 12:53 pm
The president of the Chicago Teachers Union said they're looking forward to a great year, but are concerned there's not an agreement with the district yet.

WBBM Newsradio/Nancy Harty

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The school year is starting under a cloud for Chicago Public School students, both literally and figuratively, as a possible teacher strike looms.

The president of the Chicago Teachers Union said they're looking forward to a great year, but are concerned there's not an agreement with the district yet. Among the unresolved issues are enforcing classroom size limits, providing wrap-around services, hiring more support staff, and pay and benefits.

Wraparound services include healthcare and restorative justice, a spokeswoman for the union said.

"While the State of Illinois, the legislature, has put almost a billion dollars a year of new revenue into the district, into the funds...we have not yet seen an agreement, a contract, which allows, which guarantees those funds will come down into the front lines," CTU President Jesse Sharkey said.

While this is the first contract negotiation with Lori Lightfoot as mayor, CTU President Jesse Sharkey said many of those on the district's bargaining team are holdovers from prior administrations. 

"They are the same group of people that negotiated the contracts under Mayor Daley and under Rahm Emanuel, so the chief labor negotiator and the administrative team is the same team, so we need them to actually do something different, not just use different words," Sharkey said.

The Union said 200 schools have seen their budgets slashed, like Juarez High School in Pilsen that lost $860,000 and 11 teachers this year in cuts.

The union's house of delegates is meeting Wednesday, during which time Sharkey said they're expected to discuss when to take a strike authorization vote. A strike could come as early as the end of September.