Chicago Teachers Are Ready To Strike: Explore The Issues
Updated Oct. 12
Dollars and cents matter in any labor fight but in the battle over the Chicago Teachers Union’s contract, the key to avoiding a teachers strike appears to come down to finding common ground on a few issues related to the quality of the schools.
The CTU has set an Oct. 17 strike date if there’s no contract deal by then.
The two sides have been negotiating a new contract for months, with little movement on several big issues. The last contract expired June 30.
WBEZ has been tracking the demands and offers from both sides. Check below for the latest.
WBEZ highlighted six issues above, but a few are rising to the top as the most contentious.
The first big issue has to do with staffing.
The teachers union wants a written commitment by Chicago Public Schools in its contract of additional nurses, social workers, librarians, special education case managers and counselors. The union initially wanted set student-to-staff ratios in the contract, but proposed in early September hiring targets, a plan to create a pipeline of hires and some mechanism of enforcement.
The school district has been deeply resistant to putting these commitments in writing, saying it needs to maintain flexibility.
It has promised to significantly boost the number of nurses, social workers and special education case managers over five years, starting this year. But it does not want to lock that commitment into the teachers contract for fear that staffing shortages will hamper its ability to make these hires and it could face potential grievances from union members.
Another major sticking point has to do with class size limits.
Right now, CPS has advisory class size limits but they’re not mandatory. The Chicago Teachers Union wants to lower the limits significantly and make them enforceable.
Another other important issue to note: the CTU legally can’t strike over these two issues. State law only allows the union to strike over compensation issues. The union contends that state law only applies to the Chicago Teacher Union and is discriminatory.
That explains why CTU isn’t locking in an agreement over money. It likely wants to leave that until the very end, so it can continue to negotiate on its core issues.
Check back for regular updates as new offers are made during negotiations around these key issues.