CTU Strike Comes to a Close, Classes Back in Session Friday

The Chicago Teachers Union strike came to a close on Thursday afternoon after the union and Mayor Lori Lightfoot agreeing on one final sticking point – making up the 11 lost school days since the strike began.

Striking teachers march through the Loop on the 11th and final day of the CTU strike. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

Delegates with the Chicago Teachers Union voted to accept a tentative contract deal with Chicago Public Schools Wednesday evening, but the strike continued into Thursday afternoon until Lightfoot and the union came to a compromise

“Our union does not have a return to work agreement,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey told reporters at a press conference after a nearly 3-hour long meeting with the union’s House of Delegates on Wednesday night. “Our delegates told us in no uncertain terms they were not going back to work unless there’s a provision made for making up the instructional days lost over the last ten days.”

“We do not understand why the mayor can’t simply call and say ‘we’ll give you an agreement to make up the instructional time,’ Sharkey added. “If I get a call and she says that, we will be back at work.”

CPS formally cancelled classes for Thursday around 9:30pm Wednesday night.

Lightfoot threw the blame for another cancelled school day back at the union.

“I’m not compensating for days they were out on strike. I’ve been clear about that from day one,” Lightfoot said at a press conference. “The fact our children aren’t back in school tomorrow is on them.”

Spiderman marches with thousands of striking Chicago education workers in front of City Hall. Photo by Aaron Cynic.
Thousands of striking Chicago education workers march around City Hall in the Loop. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

As snow fell on the Chicago Loop Thursday morning, education workers and supporters – including students and parents – gathered in front of the Thompson Center and then marched around City Hall while union leaders, the mayor, and Chicago Public Schools officials negotiated. Ultimately, the two sides agreed to make up five days of lost class time.

“In the spirit of compromise we agreed,” Lightfoot told reporters at City Hall. “It was a hard fought discussion, took us a lot of time to get there, but I think this is the right thing ultimately for our city and I’m glad that this phase is over.”

For 11 days CTU members walked picket lines, held large marches and rallies throughout various parts of the city, and a few even took arrests for civil disobedience at the offices of Sterling Bay, the developer in charge of the Lincoln Yards project – a flashpoint of anger over where city resources flow. The union was fighting for smaller class sizes, more nurses and other vital staff in schools, more prep time for teachers, and other resources as well as a pay increase.

The new contract guarantees every school will have a social worker and a nurse by 2023, a 16 percent raise over the five-year life of the contract, and invests $35 million in class size supports.

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey speaks at a press conference on day 10 of the strike. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

“We really feel like important things were accomplished over the last 10 days – things that would never have been accomplished if we hadn’t walked the picket lines,” Sharkey said on Wednesday night.

School will be back in session on Friday morning. The CTU’s full body of 25,000 members will still have to vote to ratify the contract.

Aaron Cynic
Aaron Cynic
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