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25,000 Teachers In The Nation’s Third-Largest School District Go On Strike After Negotiators Fail To Agree On New Contract - Chicago Teachers Want ‘Better Pay & Benefits, Class Size And Teacher Preparation Time’

Published Thursday, October 17, 2019 9:00 am
by Erin Richards & Grace Hauck/USA TODAY
25,000 Teachers In The Nation’s Third-Largest School District Go On Strike After Negotiators Fail To Agree On New Contract - Chicago Teachers Want ‘Better Pay & Benefits, Class Size And Teacher Preparation Time’

(CHICAGO, ILLINOIS) – Some 25,000 Chicago Pubic Schools Teachers went on strike today (Thursday, October 17th) after negotiators failed to agree on a contract with the Nation's third-largest school district.  This is the first major walkout by Chicago Teachers since 2012 and it comes after months of talks over pay and benefits, class size and Teacher preparation time.

Outside Chalmers Elementary on the City’s West Side, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU)-represented Educators held signs that read: "Speed Limit 30, Not A Class Size For Young Children" and "Dumbledore Wouldn’t Let This Happen."  Teachers wore Chicago Teachers Union sweatshirts and they cheered as buses and cars honked as they drove by.

Maggie Sermont, 32, a CTU School Delegate and Middle School Special Ed Teacher, has taught for seven years at Chalmers, which serves mainly low income students. "This is a ‘difficult’ neighborhood to work in," she said. "We have a lot of ‘churn and burn’ and Teachers ‘going out the door.’  ‘No one is working at Chalmers Elementary school for the pay.’  ‘We really want to help the kids, and we need wrap around services, Clinicians, Special Teachers.’"

As bargaining broke down on Wednesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said classes for some 400,000 students would be canceled after rejecting the CTU’s demands.   She said the city had offered a 16% raise for Teachers and would increase the pay of the average Support Staff Worker by 38% over the life of the contract.  Lightfoot said management had made more than 80 changes to the proposal and "bent over backwards" to meet the Union's requests.

Chicago Educators say the district has shortchanged schools after years of budget cuts and they want any new promises in writing.

An additional 7,500 school Support Staff were also expected to join Teachers on the picket lines in their own Strike for a new contract.

About 2,500 Chicago Park District Workers initially planned to join the walkout with Teachers and School Staff Workers, but their bargaining unit on Wednesday announced they'd reached an agreement with City Hall.

For Teachers, the long-anticipated work stoppage drew attention to what Labor Leaders say is a failure to reach a fair contract with the City that defines and funds more Support Staff in the form of Nurses, Librarians, Counselors and School Psychologists.

Union Leaders say they also want enforceable limits on class sizes, which have swelled to the high 30s and mid-40s in some schools.

To Continue Reading This Labor News Story, Go To: www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2019/10/17/chicago-teachers-union-strike-new-contract/4000656002/

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