Lacking support from a membership already weary about losing four days’ pay to imposed furloughs, the Chicago Teachers Union nixed a one-day strike but left the possibility open to walk again if school leaders cut any more work days.
Leaders last month floated the idea of a one-day strike on May 1 that would protest declining financial conditions at Chicago Public Schools while freeing members to join marches for workers’ and immigrants’ rights on International Labor Day.
The resolution they instead proffered for hundreds of delegates to vote on eliminated the word “strike.” Teachers and other union members apparently were loath to hand CPS a fifth furlough day. If CPS imposes more furloughs, the delegates voted to call an emergency meeting to decide how to proceed, including threatening another strike.
“Whereas the teachers, PSRPs and Clinicians who work in the schools are frustrated by the shortcomings in our schools, the impossible demands of working in understaffed and poorly maintained buildings, and the disrespect of seeing our contract violated,” read the motion the delegates considered Wednesday night.
“Resolved that the CTU declare May 1st a day of action to defend workers’ rights and stand in solidarity with immigrants and their families, and resolved, that Chicago Teachers Union demands that May 1, 2017, become a paid day of action so that Chicago educators may join families and organizations taking a stand for workers and immigrants’ rights.”
The CTU also demanded that CPS reverse the furloughs, the next of which is Friday, fully fund schools and let those who wish teach classroom lessons on labor and labor rights on May 1.
CPS officials, who still haven’t decided whether a threat to lop as much as three weeks off the school year will materialize, urged against the strike and filed a complaint with a state board that declared last year’s one-day April CTU strike illegal. When the Board of Education passed its operating budget, it counted on $215 million from the state that Gov. Bruce Rauner said was contingent on “pension reform.” Rauner vetoed the legislation containing that money in December, 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 that’s a longshot to deliver promptly on more funding for the city’s minority students.