Red Star Strike Update: Day 4

Red Star Strike Update: Day 4

TOMORROW’S ACTION: If you don’t read past the first sentence, please turn out tomorrow for a downtown rally! Join CTU, SEIU, and DSA members tomorrow at 8am at 311 South Wacker to march to City Hall and confront city officials directly!

The strike continued through a fourth school day, as strategies and solidarity continue to grow with each passing day. Striking CTU and SEIU Local 73 workers were joined by about 40 teachers from the Passages Charter School in Edgewater, continuing the trend of charter school strikes which began earlier this year. Elizabeth Warren joined a picket line, becoming the second presidential candidate to support the teachers in person after Bernie Sanders spoke at a rally in September.

 Union members also continued to escalate their tactics, dropping in on an event for Mayor Lori Lightfoot, gathering at Dyett HS for a rally, and protesting at the office of State Senator John Cullerton. Cullerton had helped the mayor table her promise for an elected school board.

 Lori Lightfoot continued attempts to undermine the unions, alternately criticizing the size of the CTU’s bargaining team and chastising them for sending some bargaining members into the field while a smaller group works on the contract. Coupled with her nonappearances at the bargaining table, it’s clear that the mayor is less interested in working towards an equitable contract than she is in turning public favor against teachers and support staff. We must always remain vigilant in reminding Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the public that the union’s contract demands were part of candidate Lori Lightfoot’s education plan.

CONTRACT BARGAINING

  • Neither the CTU nor SEIU made it closer toward a contract. A small group of CTU bargaining members continued to negotiate with the school board, while city negotiators didn’t meet with the SEIU bargaining team at all.

UPCOMING ACTIONS

Tomorrow, there will be no picket lines. The CTU, SEIU, and community support groups, including DSA, will be concentrating our forces on the downtown rally. Join us at 8am at 311 South Wacker to march to City Hall and confront city officials directly.

BREAD FOR ED 

Bread for Ed will be paused tomorrow along with the picket lines, but will continue to make and distributing food at various areas around the city as long as the strike continues. Please consider donating if you can, and if you have time and resources to help with preparation and/or distribution, please email labor@chicagodsa.org. The material needs of students and striking workers will only escalate the longer it continues.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Mayor Lightfoot seems determined to fight the contract battle in the press rather than at the bargaining table. It’s encouraging to see how swiftly and explicitly the CTU has countered her attacks. One of Lightfoot’s standard techniques, on display in her letter from Monday, was a concern that although there had been some progress, the process of ratifying a contract would be too laborious, and the staff should return to school while they simply sewed up the loose ends. Whether the mayor doesn’t know how labor battles work, or simply doesn’t care, this rhetorical tactic also elides the fact that the CTU provided the city with their contract proposals in January. Obviously, Chicago had a nominally different mayor then, but the fact that Lightfoot campaigned on many of these same policy ideas suggests she knew quite well the union’s demands. She also should have known how the strike timeline would generally play out, yet chose to ignore it.

This is a common strategy management uses against workers; painting employees as asking for too much but also as unprepared. Their lack of coherence in public statements and lack of sincerity in negotiations shows that the city has little interest in improving conditions for Chicago’s students and school workers. We must do everything within our power to help the unions maintain pressure on the mayor and to shape public perception in favor of the strikers.

The Red Star Bulletin was conceived by Ramsin Canon and is a project of the Political Education & Policy Committee. This update was drafted by CDSA members. Special contributions were made by Devin Schiff and Nick Hussong. Graphics were contributed by Patrick O’Connell. If you would like to contribute to the Red Star Bulletin or have any feedback, email politicaleducation@chicagodsa.org.