A resigned Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday morning that school will be canceled Thursday due to a teachers strike.
Lightfoot said she is certain the union’s delegates will take the bargaining team’s recommendations to move forward with a strike. That was announced Tuesday evening. The union’s delegates will meet Wednesday evening to officially vote.
Lightfoot said she thought it was the wrong move.
“Folks, I am the daughter of a union steelworker and I am a strong believer in the power of collective bargaining and yes, when it comes down to it, the right to strike. But today we are making concerted progress,” she said. “It is clear that is not one of those moments.”
She said she offered the Chicago Teachers Union the best deal in history, including a raise of 16% over five years. She also said she made 80 other offers to the union that included providing more services for homeless students and offering to provide relief to overcrowded classes.
She insisted the city has given the union what it wants.
“At every turn, we have bent over backwards to meet the union’s demands,” she said, arguing that the city has offered the union deal that is fair to teachers and taxpayers.
But the union on Tuesday said that many of the offers were paltry compared to what they wanted. They also said the mayor’s rhetoric doesn’t match what they are presented at the bargaining table.
CTU President Jesse Sharkey also noted progress on some of the big issues just started happening a few days ago after the mayor signaled she was willing to compromise.
“This whole process is a day late and a dollar short,” he said. “Things that happened yesterday and today should have happened a month ago.”
But Lightfoot accused the union of being disingenuous by publicly saying they were focusing on class sizes and staffing increases but then also bringing up a host of other issues at the bargaining table. As an example, Lightfoot said teachers want to be able to bank sick time, which they were able to do prior to 2014.
She said that alone would cost the school district $25 million. Altogether she said the union’s proposals would cost $2.5 billion a year.
Nonetheless, she said her team will continue to bargain and will get a deal worked out. “We have to do it for the children of Chicago,” she said.
The two sides are bargaining on Wednesday, though both sides say aren’t expecting enough progress to avert a strike.