April 7, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Chicago, IL – More than 27,000 Chicago Public Schools teachers went on a one-day strike April 1 to protest stalled contract talks, school closures, and possible reductions in state funding. Classes were cancelled, and less than 2% of the city’s 400,000 pupils showed up at “contingency sites.
Three people were arrested when protesters blocked afternoon rush-hour traffic on Lake Shore Drive. “We're fighting for not only our own contract but for better funding across the entire state,” one striking teacher told CNN.Both Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel condemned the walkout, using words like “shameful” and “arrogant,” and the district requested a state order to prohibit the Chicago Teachers Union from striking again and force it to pay damages. The union says the strike was legal because it was protesting an unfair labor practice: The district unilaterally eliminated step-pay raises for length of service or obtaining advanced degrees last August. Rauner has said he supports increasing school funding, but only if local governments are allowed to prohibit collective bargaining over items such as wages, benefits, hours, pensions, and seniority.
“Now we've got to keep the momentum going,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said as the demonstration ended. “The protests started a process that is critical and needed.” A longer strike might happen if the CTU and Chicago Public Schools can’t reach a contract deal by the end of May. Read more