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Chicago Teachers Union To Call For Strike Vote As A ‘Means Of Putting Pressure’ On City’s Public Schools To ‘Back Off’ Plan For A Partial Return To Classrooms Next Month

Published Wednesday, August 5, 2020
by Nader Issa & Fran Spielman/The Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Teachers Union To Call For Strike Vote As A ‘Means Of Putting Pressure’ On City’s Public Schools To ‘Back Off’ Plan For A Partial Return To Classrooms Next Month

(CHICAGO, ILLINOIS) - Less than a year removed from its longest Labor stoppage in three decades (File Photo Above), the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is convening an emergency meeting of its elected delegates early next week to discuss another Strike Vote that would put pressure on Chicago Public Schools to back off its plan for a partial return to classrooms next month, a source told The Chicago Sun-Times.

The timeline for a potential vote is unclear, but as Teachers Unions across the country play significant roles in the resumption of American education, the CTU appears to be the first major Teachers Union in the Nation to move toward a potential walkout over Coronavirus concerns.

Any Strike Authorization would need the approval of three-quarters of the Union’s 26,000 Rank-and-File Members.

The meeting next week would mark the first steps of a Member-based process toward another walkout.

Depending on the resolution put forth at the meeting, a vote could take place that day or could come at a later meeting after the Union’s 700 Delegates discuss the potential Strike with Members at their schools.

The CTU has been highly critical of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS Officials’ proposal to put most of the 300,000 students at non-Charter Schools back in classrooms twice a week this Fall.

Though City Officials have repeatedly said they haven’t yet made a final decision on in-person learning and would wait to do so until closer to the start of the school year, the Union has cited the health concerns during a raging pandemic as reasons why that choice shouldn’t even be considered right now.

CPS spokeswoman Emily Bolton said in a statement that “nothing is more important than the health and safety of our students and Staff, and Chicago Public Schools won’t open its doors on September 8th if public health officials don’t deem it safe to do so.”

At recent protests in which the Union ramped up its public attacks, CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates, an outspoken and frequent critic of Mayor Lightfoot, said it’s too dangerous to send students and Staff back to schools with COVID-19 cases on the rise again.

Davis Gates said the mayor was displaying “failed leadership” and answered “no” when asked whether there was anything Lightfoot or CPS could do in the next month to get Teachers to agree to go back into schools on September 8th, the start of the next school year.

Lightfoot has been reluctant to enter another fierce battle with the Union that supplied her first political test as Mayor last Fall during an 11-day Strike.

When she unveiled CPS’ Fall plan last month, Lightfoot said she wasn’t worried about a legal challenge or another Strike by the CTU - and said she believes any differences would be sorted out between then and the start of school.

The CTU’s National Parent Union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), made waves late last month when it passed a resolution to support Strikes by Local Affiliates “as a last resort” if school districts don’t take the necessary health measures to keep Teachers and students healthy in schools.

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