CTU’s Jesse Sharkey Explains Teachers Union Strike
The Chicago Teachers’ Union is on strike today, protesting the lack of state funding resulting from the state budget impasse.
Morning Shift’s Jenn White spoke with CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey about the rare one-day walkout. This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.
On whether it’s hypocritical of CTU to strike today, when the union has previously criticized CPS for taking days off to save money
“We have done demonstrations after work or on days off. We’ve done that before, and I’m not saying there's nothing good about that tactic, but we felt like the current crisis required a higher degree of urgency.
On whether striking today can actually affect larger budget issues in Springfield
“The strike is part of a tradition of protest, and protests work. We wouldn’t be sitting here having this conversation today; the news media wouldn’t be covering the financial crisis in the state if this wasn’t happening.”
Sharkey added that while CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has talked about state funding issues before, he doesn't believe the District has “the credibility to move this message,” because of the school system’s own financial insecurity.
On whether this is about Gov. Rauner’s anti-union stance
“Part of our vision for the day is that we have to stop seeing ourselves as helpless victims and bystanders to all this and we have to start saying that if we unite, if we take some risks, we can actually change the conversation and bring some change in the state.”
On what it would take for CPS and CTU to find common ground
(We asked CPS CEO Forrest Claypool the same question.)
“We’re very ready to work with CPS on progressive revenue,” Sharkey said. “I know there are a number of bills out that are out there right now which we think might not solve the whole problem but would be a step in the right direction”
He added that the “bigger fix” in CTU’s eyes would be an income tax that would “tax the highest earners at a higher rate.”
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