Chicago Teachers Strike 2019: Live Updates

Chicago Teachers Strike 2019: Live Updates

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Welcome to WBEZ education’s strike blog. Here, you’ll find the latest news, updates and stories about Chicago’s teacher strike. We also have strike photos.

Reporting by Sarah Karp (@sskedreporter), Kate Grossman (@KateGrossman1), Adriana Cardona-Maguigad (@AdrianaCardMag),Kate McGee (@McGeeReports), Claudia Morell (@claudiamorell), Becky Vevea (@beckyvevea), Vivian McCall and Minju Park; photos by Manuel Martinez.

To listen to our audio coverage of the strike, click here for a playlist.

Follow us on Twitter at @WBEZeducation and join WBEZ Education’s Facebook group for breaking strike updates. Also, check out WBEZ’s “Chicago Teachers Strike: What You Need To Know.” Click here for a Spanish version.

Teachers Strike: Day 11

1:20 p.m. - The strike is over!

Mayor Lori Lightfoot just announced the Chicago teachers strike is over. The city has agreed to make up five missed days of schools. This comes after teachers union delegates approved a tentative contract last night but said they’d only return to class if schools days were made up. Classes will resume tomorrow.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces the teachers strike has ended.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces the teachers strike has ended. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

Noon - Mayor and CTU president meeting

After rallying outside City Hall to push the mayor make up missed school days due to the strike, CTU President Jesse Sharkey headed up to the fifth floor of City Hall to meet with Mayor Lori Lightfoot. 

They remain behind closed doors now.

10:30 a.m. - CTU open to a compromise on the number of make-up days

CTU President Jesse Sharkey just weighed in on making up the missed school days. He said he doesn’t think all 11 days missed so far have to be made up.

“We’ll find a compromise on a number of days that make sense,” he said outside City Hall amid a rally in the snow. “We’re open to a discussion on how this lands. Let’s land an agreement and get back to work.”

He also said CPS is required by the state to make up some of the days or it risks losing money. The mayor earlier today said CPS does not have to make up any days. We are trying to sort out who is right.

CTU President Jesse Sharkey on 10-31
Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey speaks to the news media outside City Hall on the 11th day of the teachers strike. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

10 a.m. - Lightfoot willing to negotiate on missed days

Mayor Lori Lightfoot this morning said she is willing to negotiate with the Chicago Teachers Union on making up school days lost to the teachers strike. But she also said the union has given her a “take it or leave it” demand of all days or nothing.

Last night CTU President Jesse Sharkey said the union was indeed willing to negotiate, and he was waiting for Lightfoot’s call.

To that, she responded: “He’s waiting from my call? They gave us unilateral demands …  If they want to have a conversation they know where to find me.”

The union has voted to accept a tentative agreement but made ending the strike contingent on the city agreeing to make up days missed because of the walkout.

9:05 a.m. - Lightfoot to give update

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson have scheduled a 9:30 a.m. news conference to give an update on contract talks with striking teachers. They’ll talk to the media about 30 minutes before the scheduled start of a Chicago Teachers Union rally outside City Hall.

7:15 a.m. - City Hall protest planned

Striking Chicago Teachers Union members say they’ll converge on City Hall at 10 a.m. to press their demand for makeup school days and compensation due to days lost during their walkout.

The union and Mayor Lori Lightfoot are at an impasse over that demand.

Teachers Strike: Day 10

10 p.m. - Mayor rejects makeup days

Chicago Teachers Union members voted Wednesday night to approve a tentative five-year contract in a tight vote, but they say they will remain on strike until the mayor agrees to make up the days lost due to the strike.

But school was cancelled for Thursday for an 11th day and Mayor Lori Lightfoot flatly refused to capitulate on her threat — made prior to the strike — that teachers would not be making up the days. “I am not compensating them for the days they were on strike,” she said.

For more details, see Sarah Karp’s story.

8:45 p.m. - Deal approved but strike continues

Chicago Teachers Union members voted Wednesday to approve a tentative five-year contract deal in a close vote, but they will remain on strike until the mayor agrees to make up the days lost due to the strike.

The mayor hasn’t responded this evening, but from the beginning the mayor has said she doesn’t want to make up the missed days.

6:15 p.m. - CTU delegates are meeting

Chicago Teachers Union delegates are meeting now to consider a tentative agreement the union said it reached with the school district this afternoon.

Check out our news story for the latest details

4:30 p.m. - Teachers Unions says there may be a deal

The Chicago Teachers Union announced Wednesday afternoon it may have reached a tentative agreement with the school district.

But union leaders say they will only put their stamp on it if Mayor Lori Lightfoot agrees to make up the school days lost due to the strike She has previously refused.

The delegates are scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday and they could vote to end the strike.

In a statement, union leadership called it a “monumental agreement.” The union says it has unprecedented provisions to reduce class size and increase staffing.

One outstanding issue for the union was a demand for extra teacher prep time. It is unclear what the union won on this measure on Wednesday, if anything.

Also, delegates met with colleagues on the picket line on Wednesday to get their feedback on the agreements. Some of them reported their schools were unhappy with key provisions of the city’s latest offer.

Read Sarah Karp’s story for more details.

3:30 p.m, Oct. 30 - Weary parents

The strike hasn’t just been tough on parents trying to balance childcare and work. It’s been especially difficult for parents juggling even more responsibilities, like college classes.

Ana Hurtado is three credits away from earning her bachelor’s degree at Northeastern Illinois University. She’s also completing a required internship three days a week and she works full time.

She and her husband really depended on Jayden’s school and after school programming.

“All of this time was helping me with my own schedule and helping with his academic schedule,”Hurtado said.

Candace Cook-Bey also attends Northeastern. Her son is a sophomore so he can stay home by himself but she’s seen classmates bringing their children to class. She’s studying to become a social worker and has been interning at a Chicago Public School. That means the strike has disrupted her learning.

But she feels like those on strike are paving the way for a better school system for her to work in.

“Yes it’s uncomfortable,” Cook-Bey said about the strike. “It’s very frustrating, but think about how those teachers feel, think about the social worker feels that is spread out between three schools and they have over 1,000 kids on their caseload to see.”

Hurtado’s mom is also struggling.

Hurtado’s younger brother has severe autism. He doesn’t speak and isn’t potty trained. Her mom was just about to start a new job when the strike began and had to give it up because she needed to stay home to take care of her son.

“It’s sad,” she said. “It’s significantly sad because she has to support him but she has to be there to aid for him so that’s another thing were dealing with right now.”

Plus, she’s concerned about what her son is missing academically. She worries he’s spending too much time in front of screens during the day.

Whenever the strike ends, Hurtado says she wants some answers from Chicago Public Schools about how they’re going to make up the missed days, and the missed learning opportunities.

2 p.m., Oct. 30 - House Speaker Madigan entering the strike fray

House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate Democrats sent out messages over social media today saying they plan to reintroduce two bills this spring related to Chicago Public Schools. One would give Chicago an elected school board and a second would restore rights of the Chicago Teachers Union to strike over class size and staffing issues.

These announcements come as the Chicago Teachers Union is demanding Mayor Lori Lightfoot support these measures in exchange for the union agreeing to a five- year contract deal.

It is unclear whether the lawmakers are trying to send a message to Lightfoot or to the union.

Lightfoot blasted the demand that she support these measures. She said it was a last minute request and it was inappropriate for the union to want these commitments in a labor contract. Lightfoot did not say whether or not she supports restoring collective bargaining rights to the union. The union’s bargaining and strike rights were severely limited in 1995 when the mayor took control of the school system.

She has said she does not support the elected school board bill that was pending in the legislature last year. That’s because it doesn’t have any limits on fundraising for board member campaigns and calls for 22 board members, which she thinks is too many.

However, CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said union did not require Lightfoot to support a specific elected school board bill. And Lightfoot has said she supports moving to an elected school board.

Further, Davis Gates said past contracts have included provisions around the union’s legislative agendas.

The contract that expired in June includes a provision that requires the board and union to have a joint commission to promote a shared legislative agenda.

Noon, Oct. 30 - The city’s offer

The city and the Chicago Teachers Union have both released details on the Chicago Public Schools’ latest contract offer.

Teachers are considering that offer on the picket line today. Tuesday night, CTU President Jesse Sharkey said the union wants to get feedback from members on the offers. The Chicago Teachers Union last night distributed to its members a breakdown of where things stand on their 35 “priority issues.”

The remaining sticking points include: the length of the contract; the union’s demand for 30 more minutes of prep time for elementary teachers, increased pay for veteran teachers and the lowest paid teachers; teacher voice in standardized testing decisions; and money to enforce class size limits.

CTU says the city offered to increase its offer for overcrowding relief from $25 million to $35 million and boost pay for veteran teachers by $5 million — but only if the union dropped its outstanding demands. These include the prep time demand.

The union also said it would accept a five-year contract, rather than its favored three-year deal, if the deal “addresses our priorities” and “the mayor stops blocking the passage of an Elected Representative School Board and getting back our bargaining rights.”

The mayor attacked the union on this proposal saying that it is a new, last-minute request. She said she won’t endorse the union’s legislative agenda. Specifically, the union wants the mayor to endorse an elected school board bill and legislation to expand the number of issues the union can bargain and strike over.

The city also sent out a summary of what they offered. They called it a “proposed tentative agreement.” This title caused a lot of discord. People said it was misleading because the city, of course, can not propose a tentative agreement. An agreement, as the name entails, must be between two parties.

In that document, the city outlines its offers.

They include: a 16% raise over five years; $25 million to reduce overcrowded classes; $5 million to increase coach stipends and buy new equipment and a host of staffing increases by July 30, 2023, including 209 additional social workers, 250 additional nurses and 120 new positions that could either be counselors, restorative justice coordinators or librarians.

11:30 a.m., Oct. 30 - Lightfoot says talks could moved faster before strike

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot admitted negotiations could have moved faster before the strike began.

“There’s a lot of work that we could have done sooner that we didn’t start to do really until after the strike,” she said at a news conference this morning at Kennicott Park in Kenwood, where children affected by the strike are spending the day.

But Lightfoot stopped short of saying she had regrets about how bargaining has played out under her watch.

“I believe that our team has negotiated in good faith from day one and that really Day One started back in the summer after I came into office,” she said.

The mayor offered a 16 percent raise over five years back in August. Doing so ultimately may have limited how much money is available now to meet the union’s other demands on things like class sizes and staffing.

“I’m not a person who plays games.” Lightfoot said. “I think that was the right thing to do and I would do it again.”

Teachers Strike: Day 9

Editor’s Note: On Tuesday evening, WBEZ briefly posted a story that stated that the city of Chicago and the Chicago Teachers Union had reached a tentative deal to end a nine-day teachers strike. We also released information about a tentative deal on Twitter. That assessment made by an editor — based on a verbal statement from a source and a misinterpretation of a city contract document — was premature and incorrect. Within minutes, we removed the story from online and sent out a correction via Twitter. In the spirit of transparency, it’s important to the staff at WBEZ that our audience knows this is not something we take lightly. Even before the strike began 10 days ago, our reporters, editors and producers have been extremely diligent in covering daily developments — literally around the clock. We have worked hard to be a reliable and leading news source for the public and the parties involved in the negotiations. Still, mistakes happen. WBEZ is committed to ensuring accuracy as news developments and negotiations between the city and CTU continue — no matter how long.

10 p.m. - Teachers to review city offer on Wednesday

A tense day filled with accusations and counter-accusations ended on Tuesday without a Chicago teachers contract deal, leaving students out of class for a tenth day.

In a late afternoon meeting with union leaders, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tried to end the teachers strike by sweetening the city’s contract offer.

The move was intended to get a deal approved by the union’s delegates at an already scheduled meeting for Tuesday night. But union leadership said they didn’t have enough time to digest the offer in order to recommend that delegates approve it and call off the strike.

Instead, delegates will take will take a summary of contract offers from the school district and discuss them with colleagues at picket lines Wednesday.

CTU President Jesse Sharkey said the union wants members to tell them if the offer on the table is acceptable.

“It is going to have to be, we are going to look at an agreement and say ‘yup that will address my concerns about school. I will be able to walk in with my head held up high and be secure in the understanding that we made a difference,’” Sharkey said after the union met with its elected delegates Tuesday night to update them.

The school district had suggested delegates could take a vote to call off the strike on Tuesday evening but that did not happen.

One issue that will surely come up with teachers as they review the latest offer is the failure to reach an agreement on a key union demand: adding 30 more minutes of prep time for elementary teachers. The mayor has been adamantly opposed, saying that will cut into student instruction time.

Sharkey said the union plans to go back to the bargaining table Wednesday to try to hammer out details on some remaining sticking points.

If they reach a tentative agreement Wednesday, he said they’ll call delegates to a meeting to vote on it and call off the strike.

For a full recap of Tuesday’s strike news, click here

8:45 p.m. - No school on Wednesday

Chicago Public Schools cancels class again. We’re heading into Day 10 of the teachers strike.

8 p.m. - No PSAT/SAT

Chicago Public Schools cancels college admissions test scheduled for Wednesday.

6:30 p.m. - Down to three issues

The Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates are meeting at this hour. There is no contract agreement. The union is giving its members an update, including the school district’s latest offer.

At a press conference Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city had met CTU’s demands, yet the union won’t agreed to CPS’ offer.

She said the union is balking because of three additional demands that she won’t accept

The first is adding elementary school teacher prep time. The mayor is opposed because she says this would reduce instructional time. The other two are political — support for the union’s favored elected school board bill and a bill that would expand the number of issues the union can bargain and strike over.

Schools CEO Jancie Jackson also made clear that if there is no deal by Nov 1, Chicago Teachers Union members will lose their health insurance for the month.

Strikers would then have to pay out of pocket a higher premium.

If insurance is cut, medical bills could be covered retroactively when the plan is reinstated.

3:30 p.m. - CPS delays call on canceling school

Chicago Public Schools is delaying its decision on whether  to cancel school for Wednesday until after a Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight. If there is a deal by then, the delegates are expected to vote on whether to call off the strike. Most days, CPS has been canceling school around 4 p.m.

2:50 p.m. - “There is time to get an agreement”

CTU President Jesse Sharkey said he met with Mayor Lori Lightfoot for 45 minutes this afternoon.

Afterward he said “there is time to get an agreement” today. The union’s elected delegates are scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. tonight, If there is a deal by then, they could vote to end the strike.

“We made a pathway clear” to get a deal, he said. “If we get a response to that, which is something we can bring back to the house [of delegates], we’ll bring it to our members and recommend that we end the strike. If we don’t, and I don’t have anything to bring back, then I’ll be making plans to continue the strike.”

Meanwhile, school district’s bargaining team is no longer meeting with the union. They left about an hour and a half ago, just as Sharkey left for his meeting with the mayor.

2:12 p.m. - Sit-in and arrests

Several strike supporters were arrested this afternoon when they refused to leave the offices of Sterling Bay, the developer of the Lincoln Yards mega-project that has been a target of the Chicago Teachers Union. A group of demonstrators locked arms and blocked the entrance to Sterling Bay’s offices at 1330 W. Fulton St. while another group staged a sit-in inside. Chicago police took some of the protesters into custody.

1:10 p.m. - CTU’s delegates to meet tonight

The Chicago Teachers Union confirms it is holding a meeting of its elected school delegates at 6 p.m today.

The 800-member group is responsible for voting on whether a tentative agreement is good enough to call off a strike. If this happened this evening, school would be in session on Wednesday.

However, as of this point, the union has not landed a deal so it is just an information session on the state of negotiations.

That could change as the afternoon proceeds.

Noon -  Who scuttled the deal?

The Chicago Teachers Union and the Mayor Lori Lightfoot, along with CPS CEO Janice Jackson, went after each other this morning as the Chicago teachers strike drags into its ninth day.

Lightfoot said the union had suddenly added last minute demands, including that she support an elected school board bill and legislation to would restore the union’s power to strike over class size and increased staffing.

Jackson also went after the union for holding firm on a demand that elementary school teachers get 30 minutes more of prep time.

“The union is making a last minute grab to take instruction time away from students,” Jackson said. The CEO said it is the longer school day, implemented by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, that has led to better student outcomes, including a higher graduation rate.

Lightfoot and Jackson on Tuesday
Mayor Lori Lightfoot with CPS CEO Janice Jackson on Tuesday, Oct. 29. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

But CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said it’s the mayor behind the scenes who is preventing a deal from getting done.

Going into negotiations on Monday, the union had said that they were still seeking $38 million more to reduce class size and increase staff. At about 2 a.m., when negotiations ended, CTU’s lawyer Robert Bloch said the distance between the two sides on money had narrowed and the mayor had a proposal on her desk that “provided a path to a settlement.”

This morning, Davis Gates said the mayor turned it down. .

“I am befuddled. I am dumbfounded I am almost speechless,” Davis Gates said. “Her team settled it last night. She rejected it.”

The mayor rejected that as a “patently false” and again blamed the CTU for the hold up.

Davis Gates also defended the importance of prep time. She said it is only fair that teachers get paid for time they work. Right now, she said they have little time in the school day to grade papers, call parents and collaborate with other teachers.

“When the mayor says no to preparation time it means that we have special education teachers on a Sunday night uploading work into a system at 2 a.m. in the morning,” she said. “It means that elementary school teachers are at home at a dining room table getting work done. There’s no other profession where we have the expectation that they do work for free on their own time.”

10:30 a.m. - Oct. 29 - Stuck on teacher prep time

After bargaining into the early morning, Chicago Public Schools officials just gave an update as they headed into bargaining again for the day.

The terse update started with, “We left here at 230 a.m. with no deal.”

CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade said they are stuck on the union’s demand for 30 more minutes of teacher prep time and “some other new developments that came up yesterday.” She wouldn’t specify what those new issues are.

Since the strike began CPS has been accusing the accused CTU of adding new issues. The union has said all its issues have been on the table since January.

On prep time, CPS is digging in, saying if they add prep time for elementary teachers that would cut into the instructional time. The union has argued it doesn’t have to, saying, for example, that time teachers spend supervising student breakfast could be prep time.

The union last night said it gave the mayor a new proposal that“provides a path to a settlement.” McDade did not address that and took no questions.

She argued that CPS has met the union’s demands for a plan to reduce class size and increase staffing.

Also this morning, striking teachers staged a march to the planned Lincoln Yards development, which is slated to receive more than $1 billion in city tax increment financing dollars

2:30 a.m., Oct 29 - No deal

Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union bargained for 16 hours on Monday and into Tuesday morning but failed to land a teachers contract deal, leaving 300,000 students out of class for a ninth day.

The teachers union leadership had said that it was not going to leave the negotiations until a deal was worked out.

But after 2 a.m. early Tuesday, they left.

The union’s attorney said Mayor Lori Lightfoot has a proposal in front of her that “provides a path to a settlement.” He said the distance between the two sides on money had narrowed, but he did not elaborate.

Chicago Public School officials said the two are the closest they’ve ever been on remedies for overcrowded classes and money for staffing increases

But the union won’t back off its demand that elementary school teachers get 30 minutes more prep time each day. School district officials say they oppose this because it would cut into student instructional time.

They say they are far apart on this and a few other issues.

Instead of picketing today, the Chicago Teachers Union is organizing a march to the proposed North Side Lincoln Yards site, which is slated to receive city tax increment financing dollars. Teachers are gathering at various locations near the site at 8 a.m. to begin their march.

Read a full recap of Monday here

Teachers Strike: Day 8

7:30 p.m. - “We want a deal tonight”

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey and Vice President Stacy Davis Gates say the union has uncovered $100 million the city is taking from the school district — and they want it back.

They said this money should be used to cover the $38 million the union says it needs to reach a contract deal.

Davis Gates said the city should not be balancing its books on the backs of children.

“We want a deal tonight,” she said.

CPS General Counsel Joe Moriarty is at the table for the first time, they said this evening. They are expecting an offer from him, and they need their big bargaining team of 40 teachers and staff to review it. The big bargaining team is not at negotiations, but are being brought in tonight.

The $100 million CTU is referring to includes two payments CPS is making to the city: The first is $60 million in pension contributions for CPS employees covered by the city’s pension fund that is outlined in the mayor’s proposed 2020 budget. The city has always covered this cost and now wants CPS to reimburse the city for it.

The second is the $33 million the school district pays for police assigned to schools. In the past, this payment has fluctuated and has been used to cover the city’s deficit.

6 p.m. - CPS position unchanged heading into evening talks

Chicago Public Schools officials are heading into an evening of bargaining singing the same tune, which indicates no breakthroughs in talks and continued stalemate.

CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade says the two sides remain stuck on a few key issues, including teacher prep time and the cost of the union’s proposal. “In some instances,” she said “we are still far apart.”

McDade repeated what she’s been saying the last several days: The city already has committed nearly $500 million to the contract for its last year, and that’s all that’s available is if CPS is to remain fiscally responsible. This offer meets CTU’s demands, she argued. The teachers union disagrees and is looking for more investments from CPS.

She also said it was not true, as CTU claimed, that Schools CEO Janice Jackson walked away from the bargaining table Sunday night.

5 p.m. - City looking for $60 million from CPS

As the Chicago Teachers Union is pressuring the school district to spend almost $40 million more to meet their demands, news hit that the city wants to force Chicago Public Schools to reimburse the city for a $60 pension contribution.

In the past, the city has covered this pension contribution for the school district.

As first reported by the Sun-Times, the mayor’s 2020 budget requires Chicago Public Schools to reimburse the city for $60 million in pension contributions for CPS employees covered by one of the city’s pension funds.

This comes as the city is facing an historic $838 million deficit.

Since the mayor’s budget speech last week, the union leaders have been saying that the city is taking more money from the school district this year than in the past. But the idea of the city turning to the school district to cover its budget deficits is not new.

On Monday, Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said they were referring to the pension contribution as well to payments the school district makes to the city to station police in schools.

In August, the Chicago Board of Education approved an agreement to pay the city $33 million for police in schools. CPS records show $30 million of that has already been paid.

The school district’s payment for police services has been controversial for years. Under former Mayor Richard M. Daley, the school district paid $8 million a year for two police officers at dozens of schools. Then, when former mayor Rahm Emanuel took over, he said Daley’s deal did not cover costs and had the school district pay $80 million retroactively, going back to 2009.

In 2017, when CPS was facing a budget deficit, Emanuel said he would pick up the school district’s security costs, including police officers. Then, in 2018, CPS wrote a check to the city for $19 million for the police officers in the schools.

Davis Gates chided the school district for agreeing to pay the police department $33 million this year and then balking at demands for more restorative justice coordinators.

“Parents, I ask do you want a police officer in your school or a restorative justice coordinator that can provide your child with how to deal with conflict, not how to be penalized by conflict,” she said. “There are differences of priority and value.”

Ald. Jason Ervin, 28th Ward, said the pension cost shift raises questions about the financial sustainability of both CPS and the city. “There are some concerns that these costs that were borne by the city naturally should have been borne by CPS,” he said. “And so we need to really … get that issue solved and ultimately have sustainable revenue for both Chicago Public Schools and the City of Chicago.”

4:45 p.m. - CPS breaks down its $500 million offer

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Schools CEO Janice Jackson have said repeatedly that their contract offer to the Chicago Teachers Union commits $500 million by the end of a five-year contract.

They say they have done this to satisfy the union’s demands and have no more money to put on the table. The union says the mayor could settle the contract if she committed another $38 million a year. The city is arguing the cost is higher and, again, that they can’t afford it..

Here is a breakdown of the $500 million, according to CPS.

  • $375 million for salary increases of 16% over five years

  • $70 million is to hire a nurse and a social worker in every school and other staff, including homeless coordinators, special education case managers, positions to support students learning English and substitute teacher incentives

  • $25 million to address overcrowded classrooms

  • $10 million for community schools

  • $5 million on sports programs

CPS graphic

4:30 p.m. - No school on Tuesday

Chicago Public Schools has canceled class for Tuesday. We head into Day 9 of the teachers strike.

10:30 a.m - Pritzker weighs in; Sharkey on the big issues; student protests

Gov. JB Pritzker this morning weighed in on the strike, saying “It’s gone on too long.”

Meanwhile, Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey addressed reporters and teachers outside Locke Elementary School in Belmont Cragin early this morning.

He said Chicago Public School CEO Janice Jackson walked out of Sunday’s negotiations over the issues of adding prep time for elementary teachers and raises for veteran teachers who have been with the district for 10 to 15 years.

The union is asking for $38 million a year to address class size and staffing issues across the district. CPS said those costs are closer to $100 million.

“I don’t get their math,” he said.

SEIU Local 73 President Dian Palmer also spoke. She said that although school support staff have reached a tentative contract deal, the union continues to stand with CTU.

“That’s not the end of the story,” she said. “Teachers need an agreement they can live with.”

Also at this time, Chicago Public Schools students are packed into the City Hall lobby. They’re chanting “shut it down!” and “Lori Lightfoot, get on the right foot!”

Kid protest
Chicago Public Schools student protest outside City Hall in support of striking teachers n Monday, Oct. 28. They also flooded the City Hall lobby, chanting and protesting. WBEZ

10 p.m., Oct. 27 - Digging in

As the Chicago teachers strike enters its eighth day, both the Chicago Teachers Union and the city appear to be digging in, each side blaming the other for a failure to land a deal.

The walkout has now surpassed the last strike in 2012, which spanned seven school days.

There was some good news on Sunday. Chicago Public Schools support staff, covering 7,500 custodians, security guards, bus aides and classroom assistants, reached a tentative contract deal. However, they aren’t expected to return to work until the CTU reaches a deal.

At dueling press conferences, the two sides in the CTU contract fight made their cases.

“CTU told their membership and told the entire public that they wanted this contract to transform public education in Chicago. And this is exactly what our offer does,” Mayor Lori Ligthfoot argued at City Hall Sunday night. She was accompanied by Schools CEO Janice Jackson, who joined the negotiations for the first time late on Sunday.

“This is by any estimation an incredible offer. And despite all of this, the CTU has not it accepted. We are enormously disappointed that CTU simply cannot take yes for an answer.”

Lightfoot said the city has given what the CTU wanted, including commitments in writing to increase the number of nurses and social workers and to address class size.

That was followed soon after by a CTU press conference, where they rejected the mayor’s offer as inadequate.

“Our members did not take an authorization vote, they have not walked the picket line to go back to their community with half measures,” said CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates.

Gates said CPS’ current offer offer only allows for class size protections for a third of the schools. “That’s not enough,” Davis Gates said.

Gates also highlighted the $33 million the school district pays for police in schools but said the union contact can’t get funding for restorative justice coordinators

The CTU leadership repeated their assertion, first made Saturday night, that the mayor could settle the contract if she put $38 million a year more on the table. They said the additional money would be used to meet the union’s class size, staffing and pay demands.

“CPS has $38 million to settle a contract in one of the richest cities in the richest countries in the world. Yet today, their misplaced priorities will put us on the picket lines again tomorrow,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said in a statement.

The union clarified Sunday night their demand is $38 million more a year. They still want a three-year contract.

But CPS Chief Operating Officer Arnie Rivera disputed that amount. He said CTU is asking for closer to $100 million by the end of a five year contract, and that’s on top of the $500 million CPS says it’s already committed to the contract. This new amount, he said isn’t doable.

Jackson repeated the same point Sunday evening.

The drama Sunday evening came after a weekend of negotiations where it became clear that money is a main obstacle to finalizing a deal.

CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade summed it up when she described the financial distance between the two sides as “huge.”

8:30 p.m., Oct. 27 - SEIU lands deal

CPS support staff have reached a tentative contract deal, Schools CEO Janice Jackson just announced. She didn’t say explicitly if these workers   bus aides, custodians, teacher assistants — would return to work or stay on strike with CTU. The expectation is they’ll stay on strike.The details of the deal were not released.

There is no deal yet with the Chicago Teachers Union, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she’s is “enormously disappointed.”

“CTU told their membership and told the entire public that they wanted this contract to transform public education in Chicago. And this is exactly what our offer does,” Mayor Lori Ligthfoot said at City Hall Sunday night. She was accompanied by Schools CEO Janice Jackson, who joined the negotiations for the first time late on Sunday.

“This is by any estimation an incredible offer. And despite all of this, the CTU has not it accepted. We are enormously disappointed that CTU simply cannot take yes for an answer.”

CTU’s bargaining team is speaking any minute.

7:30 p.m., Oct. 27 - CTU blaming CPS for continued strike

The CTU as well as the mayor and schools CEO Janice Jackson will be speaking soon to give an update on bargaining.

But here’s a preview of what the CTU will say: In a statement, CTU President Jesse Sharkey accused the school district of failing to “invest barely half of one percent of its annual budget to give our students the equity and educational justice they were promised.”

He’s referring to the CTU claim that the mayor could settle the contract if she put $38 million more on the table. CPS says the added cost is closer to $100 million.

“CPS has $38 million to settle a contract in one of the richest cities in the richest countries in the world. Yet today, their misplaced priorities will put us on the picket lines again tomorrow,” he said in the statement.

“We’re not yielding on our demands for equity and educational justice — and CPS has a path on the table right now to make a real downpayment on those promises. Let’s get it done.”

5:30 p.m., Oct. 27 - School canceled for Monday

Chicago Public Schools cancels class for Monday. This will be Day Eight of the strike, one day longer than the last strike in 2012.

Bargaining is still underway.

A CTU member just reported on Twitter that Schools CEO Janice Jackson has arrived at the bargaining table.

12 p.m., Oct. 27 - CPS cites “huge” financial divide with CTU

Chicago Public Schools officials this morning argued that the Chicago Teachers Union is lowballing the dollar amount they say it will take to settle the contract.

They say there is a significant gulf between what CPS can afford and what CTU is asking — and they are not sure it can be narrowed in time for school to resume on Monday.

CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade described the financial distance between the two sides as “huge.”

“We have a significant amount of work to do at the table to close that divide,” McDade said Sunday morning. “And if we are unable to close that divide based on compromise at the table today in terms of the financial commitment, then we’ll be hard pressed to get a vote to get our students back to school on Monday and that’s a huge concern for us.”

McDade argued that CPS has done a lot of compromising and getting to a resolution will require compromise on CTU’s part.

After talks ended Saturday night without a deal, CTU President Jesse Sharkey said the mayor could settle the contract if she put $38 million more on the table.

This morning, CPS Chief Operating Officer Arnie Rivera disputed that amount. He said CTU is asking for closer to $100 million by the end of a five year contract, and that’s on top of the $500 million CPS says it’s already committed to the contract. This new amount, he said isn’t doable.

“We have to both be responsible relative to what our schools need but we have to be responsible fiscal stewards,” Rivera said.

In this contact fight, both sides are throwing lots of dollar figures around and neither side is offering details behind their numbers.

But one thing is clear: a final deal hinges on coming to terms over finances and both sides appear dug in.

12:30 a.m., Oct. 27 - School unlikely on Monday

updated 10:30 a.m.

Chicago teacher contract talks did not come close to producing a contract deal after bargaining went until almost midnight.

The failure makes a return to class on Monday unlikely. Students have already missed seven days of school.

The Chicago Teachers Union now says the mayor could settle the contract if she put $38 million more on the table.

CTU President Jesse Sharkey called that a narrow gap and doable. He said the additional money would be used to meet the union’s class size, staffing and pay demands. Beyond the money, he also said the length of the contract and teacher prep time are still sticking points.

The $38 million would be on top of the $500 million the school district says it has already committed to meet contract demands.

The school district’s bargaining team did not react well to this.

Cybil Madison is the city’s deputy mayor on education. She gave this somber update: “We are not close to where we need to be on the big issues.”

They will resume talks today.

At 3 p.m, CTU and SEIU leaders will visit New Mt. Pilgrim MB Church with civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. William Barber II.

And, in case you missed it, Chance the Rapper, wearing a red Chicago Teachers Union T-shirt, gave out a shout out striking Chicago teachers and staff on Saturday Night Live.

Here’s a longer statement from CTU on the counteroffer they proposed to Chicago Public Schools on Saturday. It lays out the issues that still need resolution

“Saturday night, the CTU submitted a three-year counter-proposal to CPS’ latest offer that establishes enforceable class size limits plus additional class size relief in high needs schools; adequate staffing of nurses, librarians, restorative justice coordinators, social workers, case managers, counselors and other clinicians; fair wages for paraprofessionals that will lift them out of poverty; fair compensation for veteran teachers who have received minimal raises for the last eight years; additional funding for sports programming; the restoration of elementary teachers’ morning preparation period; and the settlement of a pending unfair labor practice charge by rescinding CPS’ illegal January 2019 increase in employee health insurance costs.”

11 p.m., Oct. 26 - Talks continuing into the night

CTU leaders just emerged from bargaining to say they will continue negotiating tonight. Talks are productive but no deal yet.

7 p.m., Oct. 26 - Report: $71 million divides CPS and CTU

A report from a federal mediator shows one version of the Chicago Teachers Union’s demands would cost the school district $71 million a year over what it has already committed to the teachers contract.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has insisted repeatedly that the school district has no more money than what it has already offered. Meanwhile, the union said a deal cannot be landed until more money is committed.

The top of the document, which was obtained by WBEZ, calls it is an “off the record confidential supposal.” It reflects talks as of the end of the week and negotiations since then may have changed positions on both sides.

According to this document, meeting some version of union demands would cost $32 million more to reduce class size, $10 million more to increase staffing, $20 million more for pay. Plus, $10 million to increase stipends for coaches.

The leaking of this report may have prompted an outburst by CPS officials this morning. They complained about a “breach of trust” by the teachers union. Though they did not elaborate, the comment came soon after the leaking of the mediator’s report. The CTU says they don’t know what prompted the CPS comment.

The document was given to the two sides on Thursday. Both the union and school district officials said on Friday evening they would not comment on the mediator’s report.

As part of the legal process of negotiations, the federal mediator Emil Totonchi was brought in last May. Both sides decided to keep him involved past when he legally needed to be in the talks. Totonchi sits in for bargaining as well as private discussions about proposals among the teams.

In his report, Totonchi also notes the union’s demand for 30 minutes additional morning prep time for elementary school teachers. However, he did not provide a price tag for its cost. Prep time has become a big remaining sticking point in negotiations.

The school district has said adding prep time would result in less instructional time for students. But the union is arguing that the school district could pay teachers for a half hour more so they could come in before their students, though that would be very costly.

2:30 p.m., Oct. 26 - CTU says most of its 35 “priority” issues are unresolved

The Chicago Teachers Union and the school district both told the public Friday that negotiations are down to the big sticking points, but a document sent to all members later last night showed many unresolved “priority issues.”

Teachers and support staff have been on strike for seven days.

In the memo to members, CTU identified 35 “priority issues,” of which there are tentative agreements on all or parts of nine.

These include key issues discussed publicly, such as class size, staffing, teacher prep time and the length of the contract. But there are many others, such as CPS’ budgeting system, its school rating system, teacher evaluations, a demand for a school closing moratorium, testing and grading.

It is unclear whether the union would hold up a deal on some of these issues, especially for some of these broader ones.

Chicago Public Schools did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the document.

In the update document, CTU identified areas where there has been “movement.” These include the thorny issues of class size and staffing increases.

CTU is still insisting on class size caps, and CPS is still resisting putting firm limits on class size.

The CTU document says a tentative agreement has been reached on the phase out of privatized nurses.

It also outlines what CPS is offering in terms of staffing: It includes 209 social workers and 250 nurse and one or more dedicated case managers for schools with more than 120 special education students. CTU also says the district agreed to identify 100 schools with the highest needs and provide 25 additional positions.

CPS makes this caveat about its staffing promises: “provided there are a sufficient number of qualified candidates:”

CTU also tells its members that it is still negotiating for more counselors, librarians, restorative justice coordinators and other staff.

But several key issues are in the “no movement” category in the CTU document, including the length of the contract (CPS wants five years, CTU wants three years); teacher prep time and pay increases for veteran teachers and CTU’s lowest pay members.

Bargaining is ongoing this afternoon, with these issues undoubtedly under discussion.

2 p.m., Oct. 26 - CPS accuses CTU of “breach of trust”

As bargaining was about to get underway this morning, Chicago Public Schools Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade said there had been a “breach of trust” by the teachers union after bargaining ended Friday night.

No one at CPS would elaborate on what McDade was referring to.

Here is what McDade said this morning.

“We left the table last night really determined to bridge the divide across the table on some of the really big key issues that are still at play that we’re going to ne addressing this morning. Following the close of negotiations yesterday evening, there was a breach of trust that gives us some serious concern as we come back to the table this morning. Our plan is to address that at the table. And we will continue to bargain in good faith and work really hard to get to a place where we can reach an agreement that gets our students back in the classroom as soon as possible.”

This comes as both sides have been cautiously optimistic about bargaining. They say they are down to the big issues.

8:20 a.m, Oct. 26 - Bargaining continues, Passages strike ends

Bargaining resumes this morning after no breakthroughs yesterday.

The Chicago Teachers Union has a day of protests and rallies planned for today. This includes a 10 a.m. rally in Union Park and an action in front of the home of the President of the Chicago Board of Education.

Meanwhile, teachers and staff at Passages Charter School on the North Side reached a tentative deal with their charter operator on Friday.

The union says they won sanctuary protections for their students, many of whom are immigrants and refugees, and wage parity with CPS educators in traditional public schools 

The walkout at the Andersonville school lasted four days. Staff plan to return to class on Monday.

Teachers Strike: Day Seven

7:30 p.m. - Talks down to the big issues

Negotiators for both the Chicago Teacher Union and the school district emerged from a day of bargaining tonight to say they are down to discussing the big sticking points.

Both called the work is difficult, and the school district also acknowledged there are places where they are stuck. Though they did not specify, the main sticking points have been around pay and benefits, length of the contract, teacher prep time, class size and staffing increases.

Nevertheless, both sides said they were optimistic they could work through the issues quickly, perhaps with enough time to get students back to class by Monday.

CTU President Jesse Sharkey also said it can be difficult to manage emotions as they discuss the final, tough issues.

The union had considered holding a meeting of its delegates Friday evening but opted instead to hold a telephone town hall for its members to update them on the talks and the strike 

The two sides will resume negotiating Saturday morning.

6 p.m. - Judge says CPS athletes can’t run

A Cook County judge ruled tonight that Chicago Public Schools students won’t be able to compete while teachers continue to strike.

Parents of Jones College Prep students filed a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association and the Chicago Board of Education. Jones cross county runners wanted to compete in a meet on Saturday.

IHSA policy bars student athletes from participating in competitions during a teachers strike.

In her ruling, Judge Eve Reilly said she realizes it’s unfair, but there are too many variables like coaches potentially crossing the picket line.

She urged IHSA to accommodate the students once the strike is over.

3:15 p.m., Oct. 25 - Teachers trying to take over Lake Shore Drive

Chicago teachers and support staff started their rally this afternoon at Buckingham Foundation near the lakefront, and now they’re trying to take over Lake Shore Drive.

Teachers are on both sides of Lake Shore but there is a heavy police presence  a line of police on bikes stopping them.

12:15 p.m., Oct. 25 - Ruling on competing during strike could come this afternoon

Jones College Prep Cross Country athletes who want to compete while the Chicago teachers strike is underway made their case before Cook County Judge Eve Reilly this morning. The Illinois High School Association Regional Cross Country Meet is scheduled for Saturday.

A ruling could come as early as this afternoon.

IHSA has a policy that bars students from competing in a state tournament during a strike. Attorney Kevin Sterling, who is also the father of a Jones student, says the policy is up for interpretation, and that the cross country runners should be able to race on Saturday. 

He says they aren’t asking union members to cross the picket line, but that parents and suburban coaches have offered to help out. Dozens of students from different high schools showed up to the hearing. They say they will show up to the race no matter what, to at least show support.

9:30 a.m., Oct. 25 - Lightfoot: Today is critical

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is tempering CTU’s enthusiasm that a potential end to the strike is near.

“I think today will really reveal whether or not we are able to land this quickly or not,” she said at an O’Hare event this morning. “I think we if we don’t make significant progress today it will be really difficult to get students in class anytime soon.”

As she has argued before, she said CTU needs to pick up the pace at the bargaining table and quickly respond to their proposals on the core issues of increasing staffing and class sizes.

At Lane Tech College Prep this morning, Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey agreed that talks are at a “sensitive juncture,” but said he was optimistic.

Sharkey indicated there’s been some movement in negotiations over the union’s demand for more nurses and social workers at schools.”We’re not that far away in numbers in that area,” he said. “We need to get a little more progress on what happens if they don’t meet those goals, that [there’s] an enforcement mechanism.”

He said CPS has a history of making promises about staffing that aren’t kept. But in current talks, he said, “I think we can work that out.”

9 a.m., Oct. 25 - CPS CEO makes her pitch

CPS Chief Janice Jackson just sent out a long Tweet thread this morning, saying she wanted to “lay out my values so everyone can see where I’m coming from.”

This is clearly part of a campaign to try to counter the CTU demonstration/press conference/rally machine.

Jackson said when she started out as a teacher not even half CPS students were graduating. It’s now approaching 80%. “This is incredible progress that is easily jeopardized if we aren’t careful.”

She stressed her roots as a CTU teacher and repeated the administration argument that the indebted school district can only afford so much.

She wrapped with this:

7:30 a.m, Oct. 24 - An end in sight?

It’s day Day Seven of the teachers strike – could it be the last?

Both sides reported real progress yesterday. When asked if the goal was to get students back to class by Monday, CTU Chief of Staff Jennifer Johnson said: “That is absolutely our hope and we’ll see where we are tomorrow. But we are making progress.”

Nevertheless, CTU/SEIU continue to organize demonstrations and protests. 

They plan to gather at 2 p.m. at Buckingham Fountain on the lakefront.

The CTU press release notes the location is “walking distance” to the site of the future planned mega-development “The 78.”The South Loop development is in a TIF district that could get as much as $700 million in public funds. TIF money for such private developments has been an issue for the CTU during the strike.

We’ll also be watching Jones College Prep cross country runners who will be in court this morning. They filed a lawsuit seeking to be able to participate in state competition. They are supposed to compete on Saturday. 

Student athletes are barred from competing if a tournament begins during a strike, according to the Illinois High School Association. 

Finally, SEIU, which represents staff like custodians and bus aides, are in a public squabble with Mayor Lori Lightfoot about her joining their negotiations. Those talks have been stalled. 

Teachers Strike: Day Six

9 p.m., Oct. 24 - Progress!

Negotiations between the Chicago teachers Union and the school district appear to have gone very well on Thursday.

Leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union emerged from bargaining tonight to say it was a “good day” and progress was being made.

They gave few details, saying that the two sides were working through issues, including class size, staffing increases and pay for veteran teachers and paraprofessionals.

When asked if the goal was to get students back to class by Monday, CTU Chief of Staff Jennifer Johnson said: “That is absolutely our hope and we’ll see where we are tomorrow. But we are making progress.”

But she still said it remains to be seen if Mayor Lori Lightfoot will put more money on the table to land a deal.

A few minutes later, the school district’s bargaining team came out. They also reported progress.

They said that they were good discussions on some of the sticking points such as class size and increase staffing.

The union said bargaining will resume tomorrow morning. In the afternoon, the CTU will gather at Buckingham Fountain to “come together again to show people our resolve is still strong.”

6 p.m., Oct. 24 - Jones High School runners sue

A group of Chicago parents and high school runners will be in court Friday morning. They want a Cook County judge to rule they can compete in a state competition while the teachers strike is ongoing.

Parents of cross country athletes from Jones College Prep filed a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association and the Chicago Board of Education.

Student athletes are barred from competing if a tournament begins during a strike, according to IHSA policy. Kids in other sports have already been sidelined.

Attorney Kevin Sterling makes the case that the cross country playoffs began the day before Chicago teachers walked off the job.

Sterling’s son is a sophomore on the Jones team, but he says he really feels for the seniors: “Nobody wants to have their high school cross country career ended at the negotiating table or in a courtroom, bur rather have it end competing.”

Jones is scheduled to compete on Saturday.

IHSA says it does not comment on current litigation, and that it stands by its policy.

4:25 p.m., Oct. 24 - School cancelled for Friday

Chicago Public Schools is cancelled, again, on Friday. Let Day Seven of the strike commence.

11:30 a.m., Oct. 24 - Mayor says ball is in CTU’s court

On WBEZ’s Reset with Jenn White this morning, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her bargaining team is waiting today for the union to provide counterproposals on two key issues at the heart of the teachers strike: class size limits and increased staffing.

As she has said before, the school district has made new offers on these issues and gets frustrated when it takes time for the union to respond.

“We are not making the kind of progress that will bring this strike to a resolution any time soon,” she said.

The mayor also repeated that the school district doesn’t have money to make new offers. “The dollars in CPS are tight,” she said, adding that the district is using money to deal with things like adding new roofs, dealing with broken heating and air conditioning systems and installing new labs.

She also called class size overcrowding a finite issue that only impacts about 20 percent of classrooms in the school district. Lightfoot insisted that meeting CTU’s demands around class size and staffing increases are not about money. But the union has said that the only way to make these promises real is if the school district commits to putting money behind them.

Lightfoot again talked about how the problem in increasing staff had more to do with shortages of nurses and other support staff than with the lack of desire on the part of the school district to hire them.

She insisted that she shares the union’s goal of equity across the school district, saying, for example, that she’s committed to staffing increases “for the long haul.”

“We are addressing those larger systemic issues,” Lightfoot said.

10:15 a.m, Oct. 24 – CPS bargainers speak out

Members of Chicago Public Schools’ bargaining team spoke to reporters this morning – something we have not seen yet. This is clearly an effort to try to answer to the Chicago Teachers Union’s daily briefings on contract talks.

Before heading into bargaining for the day, CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade said the two sides are still stuck on the key issues, including class size limits, staffing increases and teacher prep time. She accused the Chicago Teachers of failing to provide counterproposals on class size and staffing.

“Some of the top priorities have not been met,” McDade said. “So even with the over 80 tentative agreements that have been met, we still have really big issues on the table.”

Like Mayor Lori Lightfoot, McDade stressed that the final package must be fiscally responsible. “We have a commitment to our families to maintain financial stability and so we have to negotiate this contract being responsible as a district so that we don’t go into further debt. We want to make sure we have a contract we can afford while still honoring and respecting the hard work that our teachers bring the classroom every day.”

She also stressed a sense of urgency, saying the strike cannot go into next week.

“Many of our students are missing out on key opportunities that can be life changing,” she said, noting the SAT and PSAT tests have been rescheduled for Oct. 30.

7:45 a.m, Oct. 24 - Putting together pieces of a “puzzle”

As the teachers strike entered its sixth school today Thursday, CTU President Jesse Sharkey spoke at Simeon High School on the Southwest Side.

“We’re trying to put together a puzzle to end this strike,” he said. “But we don’t have enough pieces on the table in order to complete the puzzle. The mayor still has a handful of pieces in her pocket. Until she takes the pieces of the puzzle out of her pocket and puts them on the table we’re not going to solve the puzzle, we’re not going to complete the picture.”

Sharkey said the puzzle pieces are about resources, such as what Chicago Public Schools is willing to pay to reduce class sizes. The CTU contends the district is offering only $700,000 to relieve overcrowding in high schools.

“It’s not going to get the job done,” Sharkey said. “There’s almost 100 high schools.”

7 a.m., Oct. 24 - Day Six

It’s Day Six of the Chicago teachers strike.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be on Reset with Jenn White on WBEZ at 11 a.m. today. Be sure to tune in.

She’ll undoubtedly talk about the cost of a new teacher contract. It’s becoming increasingly clear as the strike carries on, that a fight over money is standing in the way of a contract deal.

The Chicago Teachers Union says Chicago Public Schools can afford most of its demands. But the city says it’s tapped out.

So who is right?

WBEZ Education Reporter Sarah Karp reports.

Teachers Strike: Day Five

8:00 p.m., Oct. 23 - No breakthroughs

Another day of limited progress at the bargaining table.

Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said Wednesday night that bargaining was “moving” but she reported no breakthroughs on the big issues. She said negotiators are still stuck on enforcement terms for class size limits, saying “we are not anywhere on enforcement language. That’s actually the problem because enforcement language is going to cost money and the mayor is running around the city talking about ‘You can’t bail CPS out.’”

Davis Gates was apparently referencing comments the mayor made to the Sun-Times Editorial Board earlier on Wednesday.

“What we’ve been very clear about, is they’ve got to live within their means, whatever those means are and they can’t exceed that, and look to the city to bail them out,” Lightfoot told the Sun-Times. “And I think that message has been delivered loud and clear to [CPS CEO] Dr. [Janice] Jackson and her team and we also need the CTU to hear the same thing: There is not an unlimited pot of money to fund everything they want.”

Davis Gates did note, however, that about 80 tentative agreements have been reached on a range of issues that define how schools operate. “We have a pretty good stack of tentative agreements piling up,” she said. “And that’s what the contract will be ultimately.”

Bargaining resumes tomorrow.

6:30 p.m., Oct. 23 - CPS football teams out of state playoffs

The Sun-Times is reporting that eight Public League football teams have lost the chance to advance to the Illinois High School Association’s state football playoffs after Chicago Public Schools canceled classes for Thursday. Back of the Yards, Chicago Military-Bronzeville, King, Phoenix, Simeon, Solorio, Vocational and Young are the impacted.

4:20 p.m., Oct. 23 - No school on Thursday

Chicago Public Schools has cancelled classes for Thursday. The strike continues.

12:30 p.m, Oct. 23 - Massive downtown rally and march

Thousands of striking Chicago teachers, janitors and special education support staff marched to City Hall and around the Thompson Center this morning as Mayor Lori Lightfoot gave her first budget address.

The march disrupted traffic and caused road closures downtown.

“If life starts becoming inconvenient for the downtown business district, it forces the mayor’s hand in a way that’s faster than staying on the lines at school,” said Brian Niebuhr, a physics teacher at North-Grand High School on the Northwest side.

The streets were a sea of red sweatshirts, hats and signs. Strikers cheered and chanted as music teachers played school fight songs.

CTU Thompson Center
CTU strikers outside the Thompson Center in the Loop on Oct. 23, 2019. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

10:30 a.m., Oct. 23 - Mayor: More TIF money for schools, but for existing contract offer only

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday morning that she’s going to declare a $300 million surplus of special taxing districts called TIFs, with half going to Chicago Public Schools.

Union leadership said Tuesday evening that in order to reach a deal, Lightfoot would need to provide more “resources” to meet their outstanding demands. However, a city official said the TIF money won’t open up the more money to meet the union’s demands. Instead, it will be used to cover offers already on the table.

In response to this news, CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates tweeted: “She doesn’t want a settlement.”

Read Sarah Karp’s story here for more details.

9:10 a.m., Oct. 23 - March and gridlock downtown

Large numbers of striking Chicago teachers are marching through downtown this morning, heading to City Hall where Mayor Lori Lightfoot is scheduled to unveil her 2020 budget at 10 o’clock. 

The demonstration is causing rolling street closures and traffic gridlock across the Loop.  

On Day Five of the Chicago Teachers Union walkout, strikers are raising the pressure on Lighfoot as talks on a new contract for teachers continue. Rather than walking picket lines outside schools, the CTU is taking its protest to the Loop, with plans for a rally at the Thompson Center after the mayor’s budget address. 

“If life starts becoming inconvenient for the downtown business district, it forces the mayor’s hand in a way that’s faster than staying on the [picket] lines at school,” said Brian Niebuhr, a physics teacher at North-Grand High School on the Northwest Side.

The streets were a sea of red sweatshirts, hats and signs. Strikers cheered and chanted as music teachers played school fight songs.

CTU rally at City Hall
Striking Chicago Teachers Union members march outside City Hall on Tuesday morning ahead of a budget address by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

6 a.m., Oct. 23 - Day Five protest in Loop

Day Five of the Chicago teachers strike will begin with a huge rally downtown in advance of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s budget address at 10 a.m. That will be followed by a “mass protest” at the Thompson Center.

The union says it’s suspending picketing so teachers and school staff can gather downtown. There could be street closures and traffic disruptions this morning as strikers march from several locations and converge at City Hall.

Meanwhile, bargaining resumes.

Teachers Strike: Day Four

8 p.m., Oct. 22 - CTU: Rebuilding momentum

The union says no big deals on sticking points were reached Tuesday.

But union leadership said they felt bargaining went well, a day after they said they were discouraged and predicted a long strike. The union was upset on Monday when Mayor Lori Lightfoot asked teachers to return to work, without a contract, and said there was no more money other than what had already been offered by the school district.

On Tuesday evening, the union again urged her to back off that position.

“We want a settlement, but there has to be real resources for it,” said CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates.

The union said it will be paying attention to Lightfoot’s budget address tomorrow. If she declares a big tax increment financing, or TIF, surplus, Some of that could help the union reach a deal. Half of the city’s TIF surplus automatically goes to the school district.

Also, Davis Gates said she does not want to hear anything about “austerity.”

The union also said of athletic coaches joined them at bargaining Tuesday. The coaches talked about the district’s under-resourced sports program. The coaches want better stipends, more money for transportation and better facilities. CTU Chief of Staff Jen Johnson said the school district’s bargaining team seemed moved, but the union is still waiting for an offer on sports.

On the day when Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren came to town to support the striking teachers, CTU President said her fellow front runner Joe Biden also called to offer his support.

Tomorrow, bargaining will resume with CTU’s “Big Bargaining” team, which stayed away Tuesday in protest.

Picketing at schools will be suspended tomorrow so teachers and support staff can converge downtown ahead of Lightfoot’s 10 a.m. budget speech.

4:30 p.m., Oct. 22 - No school on Wednesday

Chicago Public Schools is cancelling class again for tomorrow. That will mark the fifth school day of a Chicago teachers strike. Negotiations continue this afternoon, with both sides reporting productive talks. But not enough to call off the teachers strike. @WBEZ 

Warren 1
Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during a rally at Oscar DePriest Elementary school in the Austin neighborhood. The Democratic presidential candidate dropped by Chicago for a brief stop on her way to Iowa on Oct. 22. Standing to Warren’s left is AFT President Randi Weingarten. Marc Monaghan / WBEZ

3:10 p.m, Oct. 22 - CPS negotiator: school unlikely Wednesday, but talks productive

A top CPS negotiator said he doesn’t expect bargaining to result in a settlement tonight, which means students will be out of school another day.

But the negotiator said talks have been productive today, even though members of the union’s 40-member bargaining team were not there. The union decided to send bargaining team members to the picket lines in a show of frustration. The union was infuriated after Mayor Lori Lightfoot declared there was no more money for the CTU contract and asked teachers to return to work without a contract while bargaining continued.

On Tuesday, the city said it has already committed to spending $500 million more a year by the end of the contract. This includes money for salary increases, to address class size overcrowding and to hire more nurses and social workers.

The negotiator, who spoke on background, said the school district and the union continue to exchange proposals on class size and staffing increases. He said the school district is offering to empower a committee to make decisions to remedy overcrowded classes and staffing problems.

But he referred to size “targets” rather than caps, which is what the CTU wants. This is a major conflict with the union.

He also said the school district’s team spent part of the afternoon hearing from athletic coaches who explained how hard it is to coach a team in Chicago Public Schools. He said the stories were heartbreaking and brought people to tears.

The negotiator said the school district’s bargaining team is now coming up with some proposals around sports. However, he acknowledged it would take a lot of money that the school district doesn’t have to transform the school district’s sports program.

10:15 a.m, Oct. 22 - Elizabeth Warren says “eyes of nation are upon you”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, clad in red and surrounded by teachers, joined the picket line this morning, bringing some star power to the CTU the day after contract talks soured.

“I am here to stand with our unions, to stand with SEIU, to stand with CTU,” said Warren, a top Democratic presidential candidate, at DePriest Elementary School in Austin on this drizzly morning. “And here’s why  because the unions are how we have a voice. The unions are how we have power. The unions are how we make sure that the needs of everyone one of our children are heard loud and clear.”

“So today,” she said before outlining her national education plans. “I’m here because the eyes of this nation are upon you. They have turned to Chicago for you to lead the way. For you to show how the power of standing together is the power of making real change in this country.”

Warren was joined by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

Warren 3
Striking teachers and support staff take selfies with Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren as the senator arrives at Oscar DePriest Elementary School in Chicago on Oct. 22 for a Chicago Teachers Union rally. Marc Monaghan / WBEZ

10 a.m., Oct. 22 - Lightfoot defends letter that “dashed” CTU hopes

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said this morning that she didn’t regret sending a letter to the teachers union leadership asking them to call off the strike while talks continue.

“We needed to highlight the human cost of this work stoppage,” she said during a visit to an art center for kids. “We have been making progress — not enough, not fast enough — but we felt like it was important to let the union and let the public know what’s actually happening in the consequences for our young people.”

CTU president Jesse Sharkey said late yesterday that the letter — along with the city saying it had no more money to address CTU demands — dashed their hopes of getting a deal done soon. Today, the union’s 40-person bargaining team is on picket lines instead of at contract talks.

“That’s unfortunate that the larger bargaining team has decided that they’re going to take the day off,” Lightfoot said.

Union leaders also were angry the mayor and the schools CEO said there was no more money to spend on the teachers contract. This morning, Lightfoot said what they meant by that was there was no more money to accommodate any new CTU demands.

The mayor also welcomed Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s visit to the picket lines today, saying it was a good sign for democrats.

“I would expect all Democratic candidates for the presidency to support workers. That’s who we are as a party,” Lightfoot said. “But at the end of the day what’s going to get it done is what happens at the bargaining table.”

8 a.m, Oct. 22 - Sharkey “extremely” disappointed with Lightfoot’s comments

CTU President Jesse Sharkey appeared this morning at Passages Charter School in Andersonville, where dozens of teachers went on strike today. Sharkey responded to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s asking the CTU to call off the strike, and stating that the city has offered what it can afford. Sharkey accused Lightfoot of saying “we’re out of money, there’s no more places for us to go. That was extremely disappointing. It showed that, although the mayor is saying, ‘I want a quick agreement,’ really what she meant is that we should compromise on the remaining issues.” 

6:30 a.m, Oct. 22 - Now, a charter school on strike too

Teachers at another school in Chicago are going on strike today. Today will be the first day that about 40 teachers and staff from Passages Charter School in Andersonville on the North Side will hit the picket lines. They are looking for better pay and working conditions. The school serves about 500 students, many of whom are immigrants.

6 a.m., Oct. 22 - The mayor’s view

Here’s what the mayor and Schools CEO Janice Jackson had to say in a statement late last night, offering a different take on Monday’s negotiations:

“Real progress has been made on the key contract tissues that CTU identified, and written proposals to boost staffing and support overcrowded classrooms have been exchanged. We were encouraged today by the improved pace of bargaining and substantive discussions on key issues, so it is now deeply concerning to hear that CTU is pulling members of its bargaining team away from the negotiating table tomorrow at this crucial juncture. Our full team will be ready first thing tomorrow morning to continue working toward the fair contract our teachers, students, and families deserve.”

Teachers Strike: Day Three

7:50 p.m., Oct. 21 - CTU says hopes “dashed” for a quick settlement

Updated 6:30 a.m., Oct. 22 with comment from the mayor and schools CEO

The Chicago Teachers Union emerged from bargaining on Monday to say that talks had gone downhill. Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said the mayor’s messaging during the day on Monday “dashed his hope for a quick settlement.”

Earlier in the day, Mayor Lori Lightfoot asked for the union to call off the strike and continue bargaining. The union rejected that out of hand. She later said at a press conference there was no more money for the teachers contract and that to offer any more would abdicating her responsibility to taxpayers.

Union leaders said this drew a line in the sand.

The union leadership said they were especially upset about the class size proposal put forward by the school district. They said the school district is proposing class size provisions only apply to 20 percent of schools and would not apply to high schools.

The mayor is proposing $9 million to lower class sizes, which the union says is nowhere near enough. That means class size limits can’t be enforced, according to the union.

They also said the school district was resisting putting language in the contract that would provide consequences for the school district if it didn’t meet commitments to hire more nurses, social workers and case managers

“We need commitments written in ink [that] are enforceable,” said CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates.

The union said negotiations can only go forward if Lightfoot backs off her positions. Therefore, its 40-member bargaining team is not going to contract talks Tuesday, but will instead go to the picket lines.

Union leaders say they will be at negotiations at 10 a.m.

6 p.m., Monday Oct. 21 - Sen. Warren to join CTU picket line

Presidential politics is coming to the CTU picket line. Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren plans to picket Tuesday morning at Oscar DePriest Elementary School in the Austin neighborhood along with CTU teachers and support staff. She’ll be joined by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

4:30 p.m, Monday, Oct. 21 - No school on Tuesday

Chicago Public Schools cancels class for Tuesday: “As of 4 p.m, CTU has not scheduled a House of Delegates vote, which would be necessary to end their strike. As a result, it will not be possible to hold classes tomorrow, 10/22,” CPS saidin a tweet.

2:30 p.m., Monday Oct. 21 - Lightfoot can’t predict strike’s end

A frustrated Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she doesn’t know when the teachers strike will end, blaming the uncertainty and delays on the Chicago Teachers Union.

Speaking to reporters at a boys and girls club on the Near West Side, Lightfoot said the strike is causing students “undue and unnecessary harm.”

She said the teacher union’s inclusive bargaining process is too slow. “It’s just not fast enough,” Lightfoot said. “They have a huge bargaining team. They need to turn things around faster and get to the core issues … We need hours, not days.”

In response to similar complaints, the teachers union has said repeatedly it’s been ready to bargain since January, but the city only got serious about bargaining in recent weeks and, most notably, since the strike began.

Union leaders say they want the strike to end as quickly as possible but they are insistent on getting a good deal, not a quick deal.

Lightfoot earlier in the day asked the union to return to school while bargaining continues but the CTU rejected that.

Lightfoot also stressed that the city does not have “unlimited resources to fund everything in a single contract that CTU wishes. The money that we have on the table is all there is.”

She went on to say that most of the $1 billion in new money that’s coming into CPS from the state and property tax increases are going to shore up the pensions.

“We don’t have some hidden pool of money,” she said.

Lightfoot also spoke briefly about the CPS support staff who are on strike as well. They are represented by SEIU Local 73.

The mayor accused the union of holding back on bargaining until the CTU moves forward. A SEIU bargaining session, the first since last Wednesday, is scheduled for this afternoon..

In response, the SEIU spokesman said his union has been fighting for a fair contract for a year and a half.

“We are going to continue to stand with CTU, which includes not crossing any picket lines,” the spokesman said. “We are ready to continue negotiations at any moment which is why we’re having negotiations today.”

1 p.m. Monday Oct. 21 - CTU rejects mayor’s request to call off strike while continue talks

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Schools CEO Janice Jackson today asked CTU President Jesse Sharkey to end the strike while contact talks continue.

In a letter sent obtained by WBEZ, and first reported by the Sun-Times, the leaders say “it is unclear” a contract deal can be reached today “given the current pace.”

CTU leaders rejected the idea out of hand at a press conference at noon today. They said real negotiations only began since the teachers walked out so they have no incentive to go back. It’s unheard of to end a strike without a tentative agreement.

in the letter, Lightfoot and Jackson cite the hardships students are facing, including sports teams missing state competitions and a cancelled college fair, as well as the struggles parents are facing to arrange childcare or miss work. They also said students are safer when school is in session.

“Given where are in negotiations, continuing this hardship is unnecessary,” they wrote.

They cited the union’s approval process, which includes a large bargaining team, and argue, “even once we reach a deal, CTU is likely to take several days to ratify it. Our children do not have the luxury of additional days out of school to wait for the process to play out.”

11:15 a.m, Monday, Oct. 21 - CTU invites the Rev. Jesse Jackson to mediate

The Chicago Teachers Union announced this morning that it has invited the Rev. Jesse Jackson to “negotiate a settlement” between the union and the school district. Jackson already attended a bargaining session last week.

Over the years, Jackson has helped mediate many labor disputes and conflicts.

In other news, CTU and CPS bargaining is ongoing today. Bargaining with the SEIU, the union representing CPS support staff, is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. It’s the first session since last Wednesday.

Also, the Chicago Board of Education postponed its monthly board meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, until the strike is over.

9 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 20 - Some CTU wins, no deal

Talks ended for the day with some wins for the Chicago Teachers Union but still no breakthroughs on the big issues — class size and staffing.

The union and the school district will resume negotiating at 9:30 a.m on Monday.

The union on Sunday night called the school district’s proposal on class size, which would provide $9 million to a committee that could act to remedy overcrowded classes, too narrow. The money would be targeted at 20 percent neediest schools, but the union would like some agreement that the school district would work to address overcrowding at more schools.

It provided the school district with a counterproposal on this issue Sunday evening.

The union also said it plans to provide a counterproposal on staffing increases Monday morning.

The union said it is also still looking for agreements on pay and benefits, the length of contract, some guarantees that special education students get services and to ensure prep time time for elementary teachers.

On prep time, the school district says the union’s proposal would result in a shorter school day — something Mayor Lori Lightfoot is adamant won’t happen. The CTU says the day doesn’t have to be shortened.

In an email to parents Sunday night, Schools CEO Janice Jackson said, “We believe our generous compensation, staffing and class size proposals represent a strong foundation for an agreement that will put us back on the path to success, and we are committed to doing what it takes to re-open schools as quickly as possible. But those efforts will not come at the cost of policies and initiatives — such as a longer school day — that have transformed our school district and paved the way for our academic progress.”

In terms of agreements, CTU on Sunday said they were able to secure language that prevents counselors from being pulled into other tasks, such as substituting. “Students, I am talking to you: ‘We are going to do better because of the language we won today,’” said Kristy Brooks, a school counselor and member of the CTU’s Big Bargaining team.

Also, the CTU said the school district has agreed to add positions to work with homeless students. In addition, the CTU said it has gotten promises of one adult in preschool classrooms for every 10 students, as state law requires.

CTU Chief of Staff Jen Johnson applauded the wins, but noted it took a strike to get the school district to move. “We are looking not just for a fast contract, but a just contract,” she said.

8:30 p.m.. Sunday, Oct. 20 - CPS soccer update

updated at 9 a.m. on Oct 21 with CPS response:

Chicago Public Schools soccer players met at the Whitney Young High School soccer field Sunday to urge the Illinois High School Association to let them participate in this year’s state soccer tournament.

CPS soccer teams have already forfeited their first games that were scheduled for Friday, Oct. 18 because of the strike.

By evening, there was an answer from the IHSA: highly unlikely.

According to IHSA rules, school districts on strike at the start of a tournament aren’t allowed to participate. IHSA is relying on that policy to keep CPS schools out of the ongoing boys 2A and 3A soccer and girls 1A and 2A tennis state series.

Those teams have appealed. But in a statement, IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said it’s unlikely to hear that appeal because “it appears the CPS does not plan to allow for participation during the strike.”

He noted that CPS golfers and 1A soccer teams could have participated in their state series because competition started before the strike, which is allowed under ISHA policy.

However, Anderson said, “CPS chose to prohibit any further participation.”

Late Sunday, CPS affirmed that, saying no students can participate in competitions because it doesn’t want to put coaches in a position where they have to potentially cross a picket line.

This soccer tournament is particularly important for seniors. “There is a really big opportunity to be seen by scouts and by many colleges that we probably desire to go to,” said Rafael Soto, a senior at Solorio Academy High School. This year, he said, Solorio is one of the top teams.

“We were practicing really hard for that for the strike just to end that,” said Angel Arismendiz, a senior at George Washington High School. “I feel bad for us. We are working so hard, it’s kind of disappointing in a way.”

If the strike continues this week it will impact other competitive sports heading into state tournaments, including volleyball and football.

“Basically, the state tournament is going to become a small geographic tournament and that’s not what anybody wants,” said Joe Trost, founder of the PepsiCo Showdown soccer tournament.

Jesse Sharkey, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, on Saturday said he’s feeling this personally. His 16-year-old son plays soccer and is also being left out of the state tournament.

6:40 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 20 - School cancelled on Monday

Here’s CPS’ message:

CTU and SEIU are currently on strike, which means classes and after school activities are canceled tomorrow, Monday, 10/21. School buildings will be open for students who need a safe place to stay during the day.

Negotiations for the day are expected to wrap around 7 p.m.

10 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 19 - School unlikely on Monday

Negotiations are done for the day with no deal.

Both sides noted progress, but in a statement the mayor and schools CEO said they did not anticipate that classes will resume on Monday “given that critical issues have yet to be resolved.”

CTU President Jesse Sharkey said he is not ready to declare there would be another strike day on Monday, saying “if there is will and resources, we can get a fast agreement here. We are working hard.”

The Chicago Teachers Union said it reached tentative agreements on two issues on Saturday. One is a charter school moratorium and the other has to do with creating a pipeline for hiring more teachers of color.

But on two of the big issues — class sizes and staffing increases — the union said it has commitments in writing but it wants to make sure there is an effective enforcement mechanism before they sign off on agreements.

On that, the mayor and schools chief said “we still have not received full, written counteroffers on class size or staffing — the two core issues that CTU has identified as being essential to resolve in order to reach an agreement.” They said “negotiations must move more swiftly so that we can get students back into school as fast as possible.”

Also, the union said it is still working on trying to get more prep time for teachers. It is demanding 30 extra minutes of prep time for elementary school teachers. Sharkey said this is of utmost importance to teachers who want to get compensated for some of the time they spend grading papers and preparing lessons.

All told, Sharkey said there are five top issues that need to be settled: wages and benefits; class size; staffing; prep time; and duration of the contract.

The two sides will resume bargaining at 11 a.m. Sunday.

6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 19 - Mayor’s floor leader joins talks

Ald. Gilbert Villegas, the mayor’s floor leader, joined contract negotiations for about an hour and a half today. He told WBEZ he is feeling optimistic the two sides are moving toward a final deal.

“I got the sense there’s a couple things outstanding that are not that big in my opinion,” Villegas said,

As a mayoral ally, he made sure to sell what’s on the table for the Chicago Teachers Union.

“If CTU were to settle right now or CPS were to settle right now … this would be probably the most lucrative CTU contract in our history … And you know what, they deserve every dime.”

“They have a lot more in common than they think,” he added.

Villegas, who worked for the Teamsters for 10 years and negotiated on their behalf, said he plans to return on Sunday. He says he went to the negotiating table today on his own volition, not at the mayor’s request.

“When you’re in negotiations, it’s good to get some new eyes.”

5:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 19 - School closing moratorium?

Among the top outstanding issues in the Chicago Teachers Union contract fight is something that has not been talked about much yet: The demand for a school closing moratorium.

The school district has not responded to the Chicago Teachers Union request for a school closing moratorium. In its initial set of proposals, the union asked the school district to agree not to close any schools for the life of the contract, but is likely looking for a counterproposal.

In the last contract in 2016, the CTU got the school district to agree to a side letter promising not to close schools until the last two years of the contract and only when the school district could prove the school had so few students it could not provide all the classes needed to graduate.

Though the school district leadership had already committed to a school closing moratorium for five year, the side letter in the contract was seen as a big win. It was the first contract after the historic closings of 50 schools in Chicago and teachers wanted some assurances that their school would not be closed.

The mayor’s office told WBEZ it has nothing to add on the subject. As a candidate, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said closing schools should not be the first reaction of the school district. She also promised not to close schools in the short term, but did not say how much time she would wait before closing a school.

The issue of severely under-enrolled schools is likely to emerge soon. Official enrollment numbers for this school year are due out soon. They are likely to show the population continues to decline, with a more than a dozen high schools with less than 300 students.

CPS CEO Janice Jackson has said it is a disservice to students to send them to severely under-enrolled high schools and has suggested that the school district will close some and then reopen new ones. This is what she did in Englewood, where a new high school opened this year.

The school district did respond last Friday to the union’s demand for a charter school moratorium. It proposed a “net zero” increase in charter schools, saying it would not allow enrollment capacity in charter schools to grow. This leaves some wiggle room to close charters and then open others or to allow some schools to enroll more students, if others are not at capacity.

3:20 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 19 - School unlikely on Monday

Mayor Lori Lightfoot told reporters today she’d she’d be “very surprised” if a deal could be reached in time for school to reopen on Monday.

Check out the Sun-Times and Tribune stories for more details.

8:30 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 19 - Bargaining update

The Chicago Teachers Union and the school district will resume bargaining this afternoon and on Sunday.

Negotiators for the union Friday night said the school district is now agreeing to put in writing staffing commitments for more nurses and social workers.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has promised to fill hundreds more of these positions, but previously resisted including language in the contract.

The union says the offer is a start but they want more..

“We finally got some proposals for staffing,” Emily Penn, a school social worker, said at a news conference Friday night. “I’m relieved but it’s not enough”

Added Jennifer Johnson, the CTU chief of staff: “We won’t be locked into a five year contract that doesn’t give students what they need.”

They also say they are awaiting more proposals on other open issues. Union leaders mentioned boosting pay for the lowest-paid school workers as an issue. Both sides said they made progress on supports for homeless students.

The mayor and the Schools Chief Janice Jackson released a statement late Friday saying they were encouraged by talks on Friday, saying they were “productive and yielded real movement on a number of key issues.”

We “presented an updated offer on staffing that would go above and beyond the unprecedented public commitments we made over the summer to hire hundreds of additional social workers, nurses and case managers while prioritizing resources for the schools that need them most. With this new offer on staffing in addition to our updated offer on class size, we are working to address the core issues that CTU has said are central to reaching an agreement — in writing,” they said in the statement. “A strong sense of urgency and willingness to compromise on both sides will be essential to reaching a deal.”

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said backing from the public has made a big difference.

“We’ve really been uplifted by support from our members and the public,” he said.

He also said bargaining team wasn’t starting until 1 p.m. today so it could attend a ceremony this morning to honor retired CTU President Karen Lewis, who is in poor health.

Teachers Strike: Day Two

4:50 p.m., Oct. 18 - Talks to continue over weekend

Looks like there won’t be a contract deal tonight. Negotiators have already decided they’ll continue talks over the weekend. They’ll meet Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m.

4:45 p.m., Oct. 18 - Strike knocks CPS out of regional soccer tournament

The Chicago teachers strike forced public high school soccer teams to forfeit their games in the regional finals starting Friday afternoon.The Illinois High School Association rules state if a school district is on strike at the start of a tournament than teams in that district are out of the competition.

Coaches, including Adrian Calleros at Solorio High School, tried to plea with the IHSA to make an exception, but the association said the policy is clear.

He says his players had a really great season: “[This is] going to be the memory that’s going to stick out to them the most,” Calleros said. “We were possibly the best team in the state that didn’t get to play because of a strike.”

If the strike had started after the tournament began then teams could have participated.

4:30 p.m., Oct. 18 - CTU president visits downtown rally

Chicago and support staff rallied and marched downtown again today, though it was a much smaller showing than on Thursday.

Earlier in the day the school system’s chief negotiator sent a letter to top two leaders of the teachers union and urged them to skip the rally, saying “We cannot afford to have another three to four hour recess in negotiations.”

He asked that at least one of stay at the table at all times.

Vice President Stacy Davis Gates stayed at the table while President Jesse Sharkey went to the rally briefly.

It was “very useful for me to hear from our members on the street so I know what to do at the table,” Sharkey said.

11:50 a.m., Oct. 18 – Mayor defends not making up missed strike days

What Mayor Lori Lightfoot is saying today:

She defended the decision not to make up school days missed by the strike. Lightfoot said when the school district extended the year into June after the 2012 strike there were “lots of unintended consequences.” She said it could hurt seniors trying to get financial aid and final packages ready for college.

Chicago Public Schools could, however, potentially make up the days in other ways besides extending the year.

And the big question: will the teachers union end the strike without a promise those days will be made up? Otherwise, they don’t get paid.

Lightfoot also said the school district is working to ensure that current seniors who need letters of recommendation and transcripts for college can get them.

She is also sounding two of her themes today:

·CPS still has money troubles and can’t afford all the union is asking for. “Keep in mind, CPS is just on the other side of the line of insolvency. We are borrowing$700 million a year. When you are doing that, your finances are still in a precarious state.”

·What you hear in the media and in social media “isn’t necessarily consistent with what’s said at the bargaining table.”

10:30 a.m., Oct. 18 - CPS demands 10-hour-a-day talks; wants CTU leaders to skip rally

In a letter released to the media this morning, the key negotiator for Chicago Public Schools is urging leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union to stay at the table 10 hours a day until a deal is reached.

The letter notes a 1:30 p.m. rally planned for today at City Hall, with union leaders scheduled to attend. “We can not have another three to four hour recess in negotiations,” wrote CPS lawyer Jim Franczek.

The union responded on Twitter, saying it has been trying to bargain for 10 months. It said Lightfoot has only been in office for half that time and only got “(somewhat) serious” in July.

Last night, the union bargaining team was upset when school district negotiators refused to bargain after the top leaders left for a media appearance. The union has a big bargaining team comprised of 40 members. They said the school district should have continued talks with them.

The two sides are bargaining now.

9:15 a.m., Oct. 18 - Picketing teachers party on State Street

7:50 a.m., Oct. 18 - Progress, but not enough

Contract talks between the Chicago Teachers Union and the school district begin around 9 a.m.

President Jesse Sharkey just spoke to a large crowd of teachers at Juarez High School and said there has been some progress at the bargaining table.

He said the school district finally gave the union a proposal around class size.

That offer would provide between eight and 10 million more to reduce class-sizes.

Sharkey says he does not think that’s enough.

He also urged the mayor to stop saying there’s no more money. He called that stonewalling.

A teacher from Juarez spoke about how that school has lost $800,000 this year.

Also a representative from the national AFL-CIO was there. He said the nation is watching Chicago and is behind the teachers.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot plans to visit the Gads Hill Community Center in Pilsen at 8:30 this morning to visit with students.

Hanson Elementary strikers
Striking teachers at Hanson Park Elementary School at 5411 W. Fullerton Ave. sharing homemade tamales for breakfast on Friday morning. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

Teachers Strike: Day One

8:20 p.m., Oct. 17 - Class size developments

The Chicago Teachers Union says it received a written proposal on class sizefrom the school district. This is a breakthrough because it comes after months of the school district offering only small changes around class sizes.

The biggest element is the school district’s willingness to increase the amount it would put toward relieving overcrowded classes to $9 million, up from $1 million. The school district’s bargaining team also is open to giving a committee the authority to make quick decisions on which overcrowded classrooms should get relief and what that relief will be, according to the union.

The classroom proposal was one of two put on the table by the school district today. It also made an official offer on supports for homeless students.

The union said these two proposals did not go far enough in meeting their demands. But they said that they were pleased they finally got written proposals after 10 months of negotiating.

Jackson Potter, who is part of the union bargaining team, said he was especially disappointed that the school district is refusing to lower class sizes, even for the neediest students.

The union has been insisting on lower class sizes and enforceable class size limits. They want kindergarten to third grade classes to be no more than 24 students and fourth through eighth grade to be no more than 28 students. Currently, advisory contract guidelines call for 28 students for primary grades; 31 in third to eighth grade; and 25 to 28 in high school, depending on the subject.

On Saturday, union leaders revised their demandto allow for their proposed new class size limits to apply first to schools with high percentages of students who are poor, in special education or bilingual.

The union also wants the school district to create a “Joint Class Size Enforcement Board.” They want this board to have the power to make decisions on how to remedy large classes and to have enough money to react to oversized classes within five days.

Currently, schools can complain about large class sizes to a panel, which can recommend remedies.

For homeless students, the school district is proposing to add a coordinator in schools that have more than 90. The union says that only amounts to 12 schools. The union says much more needs to be done to make sure homeless students have the services they need.

City officials did not speak to the media or release a statement Thursday evening.

The union said it will be back at the bargaining table on Friday at 9:30 a.m. Their members also will be on picket lines at schools throughout the day.

6:30 p.m., Oct. 17 - Strike continues on Friday

Chicago Public Schools says there will be no classes for students tomorrow for a second day. Negotiations between the school district and the Chicago Teachers Union are done for the day, with no deal reached.

6:15 p.m., Oct. 17 - Aldermen define “progressiveness”

Everyone is a progressive nowadays, so I don’t think this has taken any progressiveness away from her,” said Ald. Nick Sposato, 38th Ward. “I believe the strike was going to happen no matter what as soon as she was in. I think the CTU was going to strike no matter what. I’m not taking sides in this.”

Sposato thinks the CTU leadership already had their minds made up. “Their person did not win this election, and they were going to try to rough up the mayor if if was not their person.” By “their person,” Sposato is referring to Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, Lightfoot’s most formidable opponent in the 2019 mayoral election.

Ald. Harry Osterman, 48th Ward, says “obviously” he supports the teachers and no one wants to see them on strike. But he’s also aware that money is tight.

The city already has an $838 million budget hole to fill “so the funding on the city side is limited,” Osterman said, but he added there’s a lot of interest in dealing with the issues the teacher’s union is raising. “Affordable housing, supports in communities in schools and outside of schools. I think those are something the mayor cares deeply about, aldermen care deeply about and the teachers care deeply about.”

5:45 p.m., Oct. 17 - Voices of Chicago parents and teens

The Chicago Teachers strike upended daily schedules for many families today, but parent Terencia Caldwell tried to keep her four children in the same routine. They’re experiencing homelessness and live in a shelter in Englewood, so she knows they need stability.

When she found out their school would be open despite the strike, and students would still get free meals, she got her kids ready and headed toward the train to travel to Howe Elementary School in Austin. She couldn’t take off work and her babysitter wasn’t available until the afternoon.

“I have to make sure they get to school,” Caldwell said. I want them to stay there.”

In North Center, Bell Elementary school parent Ruth Nechas took her kids to her friend’s ceramic studio for the day. She usually works from home and says she doesn’t always have time to focus entirely on her kids.

“When I’m home and working I’m like, ‘Hey, isn’t there something on TV?,’ and I know that’s not what they need,” she said.

She hopes the strike doesn’t last long. Neither do students at Senn High School school on Chicago’s North Side.

For almost two months, they’ve been practicing for an Hispanic Heritage assembly that was scheduled for today. But because of the strike. the performance was cancelled and it’s unclear if it will be rescheduled.

Still, students said they support their teachers and the strike. They understand the issues at stake, including staffing and class sizes. They say they’ve experienced firsthand the need for more counselors, social workers and nurses.

Senior Abad Beiquez says they even joke about it: “Only get sick on Tuesday and Thursday because that’s when the nurses come.”

5 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 17 - CTU downtown rally

CTU rally
Chicago teachers and their supporters march downtown on Oct. 17, the first day of a teachers strike. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

Thousands of Chicago teachers, school staff and their supporters rallied and marched downtown this afternoon. They were joined by Chicago Teachers Union leaders and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

At the rally, Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said “We don’t just want a fast deal. We are going to hold fast for a good deal.”

12:46 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 17 - CTU launches ads

The Chicago Teachers Union is taking to local radio airwaves this week to make its case for a contract deal with the city.

The union says in a news release it’s spending more than $100,000 on an ad buy on “dominant” radio stations. The ads, in English and Spanish, criticize Mayor Lori Lightfoot, saying she hasn’t kept her campaign promises.

12:05 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 17 - Lightfoot visits kids

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson visited with students at two community sites this morning. At a West Side center, Lightfoot laid the blame on the teachers union for the failure to reach a contract deal.

“We certainly believe we could get a deal done today if there is a seriousness of purpose and willingness on the other side,” she said. “We can get a deal done today.”

Lightfoot says the city has moved on the union’s two core demands — to put language in the contract regarding increased staffing and class sizes.

“I think we have put on the table a structure around compensation, staffing and class size that have the outlines and the framework for a deal but we can’t bargain by ourselves,” she said.

The union says it’s not satisfied by what’s being offered and wants to see details in writing.

Lightfoot was also clear the city’s compensation offer isn’t changing.

“We are not moving any further on money because we can’t,” she said. “From a financial standpoint we have to always keep in mind the taxpayer. We don’t have unlimited resources.”The union is looking for higher wages for low-wage office clerks and teachers aides and veteran teachers.

Lightfoot at school
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot visiting children at the McCormick YMCA of Metro Chicago Thursday morning on the first day of the teachers strike. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

8:40 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 17 - Honks and signs

Teachers at National Teachers Academy on the Near South Side are in front of the school and holding signs, declaring that they are fighting for better schools.

The teachers say they feel gratified by the response they are getting from passersby.

They are also awaiting for union Vice President Stacey Davis Gates, who is expected to stop here on the way to negotiations.

The strike is getting national support with American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten joining picketers at several schools this morning.

Later today they’ll be at a rally and march in downtown Chicago.

7:30 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 17 - CTU picketing

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey was just at Peirce Elementary in Andersonville.

He said the union is open to more negotiations, and might be willing to compromise on some issues so long as it gains on the issues it thinks are most important.

“We view this as an opportunity to get what’s right,” Sharkey said. “While we’re prepared to bargain, of course, we’re not prepared to capitulate on those demands because those are the demands that make for just schools.”

Some key issues for the union are getting smaller class sizes; getting a written commitment for more nurses, librarians and social workers; and reducing counselor caseloads.

CTU strikers at Peirce Elementary
Striking teachers walk a picket line at Peirce Elementary in Andersonville early Thursday Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

7 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 17 - Strike Day One

Teachers picketing began at 6:30 this morning and runs through 10:30 a.m. Chicago Teachers Union leaders are out on the picket lines this morning, and will be joined by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Schools CEO Janice Jackson are visiting two community sites this morning that are hosting students during the walkout.

All schools are open and accepting kids. They are staffed by administrators.

We’ve compiled a handy ” here’s what you need to know” story here that will help as this strike gets rolling.

6:15 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 15: Chicago teachers strike is on

The Chicago Teachers Union is going on strike. A meeting of union delegates just wrapped up and it’s now official. The strike begins tomorrow morning.

At the meeting, delegates went through the contract proposals from the school district and agreed there wasn’t enough there to call off a strike.

As they left, delegates said the mood inside was unified strong, determined and excited .

Many were picking up signs as they left.

Tomorrow, teachers will be on the picket lines in front of schools, from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and then they’ll meet downtown for an early afternoon rally and march..

Negotiations will resume tomorrow and both sides say they hope to work out a deal soon.

Read our full strike story here.

CTU strike prep
CTU members sign up for picket signs at the union’s headquarters at 1901 W. Carroll Ave. in Chicago on Wednesday as they prepare for the first dayoftheir walkout the next day. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

6 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 15: CPS support staff announce strike

Some 7,500 CPS support staff just announced they will strike tomorrow. SEIU, which represents 7,500 teacher assistants, custodians and security guards, said it rejected CPS’ contract offer today. CTU decision to strike due soon.

12:20 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 16: Park District workers won’t strike

The Chicago Park District and its workers have reached a tentative contract deal that averts a strike that would have begun on Thursday.

Officials with the Service Employees International Union announced the agreement at a news conference at noon. More than 2,000 workers were prepared to walk off the job. The Park District was planning to cancel programs and events, and limit the number of fieldhouses open if a strike occurred.

The expectation was that SEIU would strike, even if it had a deal, if Chicago Teachers Union planned to strike on Thursday — which is now a foregone conclusion. But SEIU says its strike is off.

11 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 16 - What are the kids saying?

Now that a strike appears to be a foregone conclusion, we checked in with some CPS high schoolers to hear their thoughts.

Outside Roberto Clemente High School in Humboldt Park, some students said they were more than happy to get a day off (or more) school. But others said they’d rather be at school practicing for their college admission test or working on projects.

“I am kind of worried because I am a senior and I have to make up a lot of work in order to graduate,” Giselle Romaniz said.

Other students say they are planning to be on the picket line Thursday. “I am pro-strike,” said Ahkyra Hudson, a junior. “I believe our schools should have a social worker, a librarian and teachers should get better paid.” Hudson and other students they also said they need more counselors to help them figure out their career plans and better navigate the college application process.

8:40 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 16: No school on Thursday

Mayor Lori Lightfoot just spoke and said there will be no school tomorrow. She said she fully expects the union to announce a strike tonight. Lightfoot argued strongly that the city has met the union’s demands and will continue to negotiate to keep the strike as short as possible.

“At every turn, we have bent over backwards to meet the union’s demands,” she said, arguing that the city has offered the union an historic deal that is fair to teachers and taxpayers.

“Despite all this, the CTU intends to forge ahead with a strike.”

The mayor said they don’t have a deal yet because “behind the scenes they continue to bring up additional issues.”

Read Sarah Karp’s storyfor more details.

In addition, 2,400 Park District workers and 7.500 CTU support are also expected to strike tomorrow.

The Chicago Park District says all programs will be affected during the strike. It says it will open 18 fieldhouses with limited hours of operation. But all park programs and events will be cancelled until further notice.

9 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 15: Strike all but certain

The head of the Chicago Teachers Union announced this evening that the union bargaining team is recommending to its delegates that 25,000 Chicago teachers and staff strike on Thursday — and he’s “overwhelmingly certain” they will follow it.

The delegates will meet on Wednesday evening to take a vote on whether to strike.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is expected to respond Wednesday morning.

Read Sarah Karp’s storyfor more details.

4 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 15: City update

On Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she “remains confident” a deal can be done with the Chicago Teachers Union but it’s not imminent — that’s why she and CPS CEO Janice Jackson are not yet at the bargaining table.

The Thursday strike date is fast approaching, she said, and urged negotiators to increase the pace of talks and work with a sense of urgency.

Lightfoot explained that the teachers union 40-person bargaining team meets privately to consider each proposal. On Tuesday, the big bargaining team met for three hours while her negotiators waited, she said

Late last night, she put out a statement showing movement on two major sticking points in contract talks. She said her “team responded at the bargaining table to the Chicago Teachers Union’s framework for staffing and class size that they put forward on Saturday. We expressed a willingness to find solutions on these two core issues that would be written directly into the contract.”

But on Tuesday, she did not provide details of what offers were presented on these subjects. As she has been doing, she referred back to 80 proposals the school district gave to the union on Friday. The union called many of those proposals insulting, especially on the big issues.

Union leaders have said they will stop negotiation sometime Tuesday evening and release a summary of CPS offers for members to consider. On Wednesday evening, the union will hold a meeting of its delegates where the offers will be accepted or rejected, triggering a strike.

3 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 15: The next 24 hours

Tonight, the public should get a clearer picture of whether or not there’ll be a teachers strike on Thursday.

The union this evening plans to put out a summary of school district offers to members to consider.mHow union leaders talk about the summary should provide insight into whether they think they have a deal worth taking.

Then Wednesday evening, the union will hold a meeting to hear from members and decide to accept the offers or reject them, triggering a strike.

Late last night, Mayor Lori Lightfoot put out a statement changing her position on a key sticking point in contract talks.

She said she’s willing to put in writing promises of increased staffing and class size caps.

But so far, there’s no tentative agreement on these issues and many others.

1 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 15: What’s a parent to do?

If teachers strike on Thursday Chicago Public Schools says it will keep all school buildings open and serve breakfast and lunch. Students will be supervised by administrators and non-union staff. But some parents say they aren’t comfortable leaving their children with adults they don’t know. .

Unlike during the last strike in 2012, Chicago Park District programming isn’t expect to be available because those workers might also be on strike. In 2012, only about 150 school buildings were open for students.

Parents can sign up for CPS childcare and find a location here.

CPS also says all Chicago public libraries will be open.

What else is available for kids? The parent group Raise Your Hand has compiled a good list. Here’s a good rundownfrom the Tribune. Here’s another onefrom WGN.

10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 15: Bargaining resumes

Negotiators from the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools were scheduled to begin bargaining at 9:30 a.m. today. We’ll bring you updates as we get them.

Meanwhile, a coalition of parent and community groups are converging on City Hall this morning to launch ” a pressure campaign on Mayor Lori Lightfoot, demanding that she keep her campaign promises of equity and justice for our schools.”

This comes as a new poll is out gauging support among the public for a potential strike. The Chicago Sun-Times/ABC7 Chicago poll found that nearly half of Chicago voters would support a strike, and they would be more likely to hold CPS and city officials responsible for the walkout than the union. However, only 12% would personally blame Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

6:30 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 15: City bargaining update

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson released a statement late last night after bargaining ended. They said they responded to the teachers union’s modified proposal regarding class size caps and staffing increases. On Saturday, the union saidit still wanted commitments in those two areas in the contract but it was willing to phase them in over time and target the neediest schools first.

“Today, the City and CPS’ negotiating team responded at the bargaining table to the Chicago Teachers Union’s framework for staffing and class size that they put forward on Saturday. We expressed a willingness to find solutions on these two core issues that would be written directly into the contract. Unfortunately, no measurable progress was made on any other issue today. We remain committed to getting a deal done, as our teachers, students and families deserve no less.”

10 p.m, Monday, Oct. 14: Bargaining update

After bargaining ended Monday night, Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey laid out a schedule that leaves little time to nail down a deal.

Sharkey said by Tuesday night he wants to provide a summary to CTU members of the school district’s offers. That way, he said, elected CTU delegates on Wednesday can talk to teachers at their individual schools about the offers.

The union will then hold a delegates meeting Wednesday night where a decision will be made to accept the offers or strike.

At the CTU update, bargaining team members reiterated their demands to get promises regarding increased staffing and class size limits in the contract. Sharkey said the school district’s negotiators are discussing these issues with the union, but he argued those conversations should have started months ago. Time is running short, he said,

Neither the city nor Chicago Public Schools issued a statement Monday night regarding developments at the bargaining table.

6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14: The mayor’s message

Earlier today, Mayor Lori Lightfoot posted a video message on Twitter.

She highlighted the counterproposals the city presented to the Chicago Teachers Union on Friday, including $400,000 a year for more nurses, social workers and case managers and $1 million annually to address overcrowded classes — proposals the union already has dismissed as “insulting.” Lightfoot has yet to respond publicly to CTU’s amended proposalfrom Saturday on class size caps and increased staffing.

You can see Friday’s counterproposals on CPS’ contract page. This is a big change from past negotiations when the city shared little about its contract proposals publicly and is part of an attempt to talk directly to the public.

In her Twitter message, Lightfoot told teachers and other city workers who rallied today: “We hear you and we respect what you stand for.

CTU rally 5
After a 2 p.m. rally, Chicago teachers, other union workers and their supporters marched through the Loop. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

5 p.m., Monday, Oct. 14: SEIU demands

Today’s rally wasn’t just for Chicago Teachers Union members. It also included dozens of SEIU members amid a sea of red-shirted CTU employees.

Two groups of SEIU members — Chicago Park District workers and CPS custodians, teacher assistants and security guards — also plan to strike this week if they can’t reach contract deals. The CTU has said all three will strike on Thursday if at least one can’t reach a deal.

SEIU says there has been some progress made, but there is a lot more work to do.

CPS workers are looking for a salary bump and protections for special education classroom assistants so they aren’t pulled away from their jobs for other duties. They also want the school district to stop contracting out custodian services.

The Park District workers are looking for higher salaries as well and more affordable health insurance, which is set to double under the current contract. They also want part-timers to be paid the same rate as full time workers. They currently make about $5 to $2 less per hour than full-time employees for the same work, the union says.

“We are not just there for people to use the bathrooms,” said Irma Rizzo, a Park District supervisor in East Rogers Park. “We are there for the kids and the community.”

Rizzo says they are ready to strike if they don’t get an offer that allows them to afford to live in the city.

4:15 p.m., Monday, Oct. 14: CTU update

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey left negotiations with the school district to stop at the CTU/SEIU rally. He shared the latest on contract talks.

He said progress has been made today but the union hasn’t gotten promises in writing of increased staffing or smaller classes sizes for the neediest students.This is what the union proposed on Saturday.

“As time goes, the chances of getting a deal narrow,” he said. “We will strike if that is what it takes for educational justice.”

SEIU International President Mary Henry and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten also addressed the crowd. Weingarten said the unions were going to teach Mayor Lori Lightfoot a lesson, just like it taught former Mayor Rahm Emanuel a lesson. She said the lesson was “elementary” — that all schools need nurses and other support services. Union members were told by many speakers that their fight for social justice is the vanguard.

The rally inside the Chicago Temple lasted more than an hour.

Now, people are marching downtown. The sea of protesters cover about one block — a substantial showing but smaller than in 2012.

2:45 p.m., Monday, Oct. 14: Speaking out at the CTU rally

Sarah Karp is reporting live from the CTU rally in the Loop:

Workers in red and purple shirts are packed into the Chicago Temple this afternoon. They are not only teachers, but also other school staff and park district workers.

The three unions will all strike together on Thursday if they don’t have contract deals.

There has been some questions about public support for a walkout. But here the mood is enthusiastic.

A speaker from SEIU, which represents CPS support staff and Park District workers, just told the crowd the mayor should stand with the working class and black and brown people, not developers.

Then a student named Miracle Boyd spoke. She talked about a three-year-old boy that was shot yesterday. She said students experience this type of violence daily and that’s why they need the supports the teachers union is fighting for.

CTU leaders left negotiations to attend the rally, but they may be returning this evening.

CTU rally 2
Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

2 p.m., Monday, Oct. 14: CTU rally

CTU’s rally is getting underway. Here’s what it looks like.

CTU Rally 2
Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

1:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 14: CTU to rally this afternoon

Today at 2 p.m. the Chicago Teachers Union and the Service Employees International Union are holding a “Stand Up for Education Justice” and rally and march downtown. It begins with an indoor rally at the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington St. WBEZ will be there.

At the same time, negotiators for CTU and Chicago Public Schools are meeting today to keep working on a contract deal before Thursday’s strike deadline.

Noon, Monday, Oct. 14: Negotiations update

Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools negotiators are behind closed doors today.

They didn’t meet on Sunday, but on Saturday both sides reported progress, with Mayor Lori Lightfoot saying she was “pleased to see more progress at the negotiating table than at any time up to this point.”

This conciliatory tone was a major change from Friday. After that day’s negotiations, both the mayor and the union came out swinging. Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson issued a joint statement accusing the union of not bargaining in good faith and determined to strike.

The union argued on Saturday that it has now given the city a path to avoid a strike by modifying its proposals around class sizeand staffing increase — two of the biggest sticking points in contract talks.

11 a.m., Monday, Oct. 14: The SEIU wildcard

As Chicagoans are calculating the odds of a strike, they need to factor in what’s happening with another union that is coordinating with the Chicago Teachers Union.

SEIU represents 10,000 employees who with work with children — 7,500 Chicago Public Schools security guards, teacher aides and custodians and 2,500 Chicago Park District workers.

The CTU has said all three will strike on Thursday if at least one can’t reach a deal.

SEIU told WBEZ Monday morning that talks are not going well.

SEIU Vice President Jeff Howard said negotiations for CPS workers are scheduled for Wednesday. Park District workers are set to negotiate Tuesday.

The more recent Park District negotiations, on Friday, yielded “little progress,” Howard said. “I think it moved it to a strike. I think it moved us toward walking out on the 17th.”

10 a.m., Monday, Oct. 14: Strike impact

If there is a strike on Thursday, Oct. 17 here’s who will be impacted:

299,000 children and their families (62,000 children in CPS charter and contract schools won’t be affected)

25,000 Chicago teachers and other Chicago Teachers Union members

7,500 SEIU staff working in Chicago Public Schools, including teacher assistants, custodians, bus aides and security officers

2,500 Chicago Park District workers and children in Park District program