CTU leaders not recommending strike on May 1, ‘action’ instead

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The Chicago Teachers Union is no longer suggesting a one-day strike on May 1, as it had previously planned its delegates to consider.

The agenda item that delegates will be asked to vote on Wednesday night will instead suggest an “action” in solidarity with workers and with immigrants and their families who also will hold rallies that Monday, International Labor Day, CTU sources said.

Last month, CTU leadership had asked the delegates, who make up its governing body, to discuss what to do, including walking off the job: “Resolved that the CTU delegates will conduct discussions and hold meetings in their workplaces about a May 1st strike for revenue in solidarity with labor and immigrants, with the aim of taking a vote in the regular April 5th House of Delegates meeting on whether or not to recommend a one-day strike to the CTU membership.”

CTU members were angry about losing four unpaid furlough days when they were scheduled for training, and about Chicago Public Schools’ threat to cancel school as early as June 1, 13 school days early, to save millions needed to plug a budget gap. The second of the unpaid furloughs for all district employees is Friday.

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Vice President Jesse Sharkey had said the delegates would take a vote on what to do at their April meeting after discussing the possibilities at their schools.

Many teachers, though upset about budget conditions, were loath to volunteer to give up another day’s pay.

The word “strike” no longer appears on the agenda, but it remains a possibility for delegates to debate at Wednesday night’s meeting.

Meanwhile, CPS has filed complaints with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, asking the appointed board members to stop the strike before it could happen.

CPS went to the same board last year after the CTU walked off the job for a single day on April 1 to protest budget conditions and won a ruling that declared that strike illegal.

CPS had passed its operating budget, counting on $215 million from the state that Gov. Bruce Rauner said was contingent on “pension reform.” In December, he vetoed the legislation containing that money, saying that the conditions hadn’t been met.

District leaders have scrambled to fill the gap with furloughs and budget freezes, and filed a civil rights lawsuit against Rauner and other state leaders demanding more funding for the city’s minority students. They urged the union not to give up any more instructional days and reminded the union that anyone who didn’t go to work on May 1 wouldn’t be paid.


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