Throughout this strike, CTU has presciently focused their attention on the realities and consequences of the city’s economic decisions. They’ve continued to put themselves on the line for their students and their values. In doing so, CTU has challenged the mayor and the city to reconsider who Chicago should serve. They have pushed past criticism that they were demanding things beyond the scope of what is legally permitted, taking aim at unjust laws designed to undermine their power as workers.
This morning, thousands of CTU teachers and community supporters converged at the site of the planned Lincoln Yards development. Outside the Hideout — the independent music venue that has helped lead community protest against Lincoln Yards and its developer, Sterling Bay — the teachers protested the $1.3 billion in TIF funding the project received from the city. Lincoln Yards is a taxpayer-subsidized, luxury real estate development that few Chicagoans will tangibly benefit from. The mayor has tried to obfuscate by insisting that the deal is done and there is no way to free up additional funding without a lengthy legal battle. The teachers are making a different point: any public money tied up in projects for the rich — like Lincoln Yards — is potential funding that has been taken from those who need it most.
The teachers continued to escalate their action by staging a peaceful sit-in protest outside the Sterling Bay offices. Nine CTU members were arrested. This act of civil disobedience reminds city officials that they have a choice to make. They don’t have to remain on the side of vulture capitalists and real estate developers. Negotiating a fair CTU contract is one way to demonstrate that they are a government invested in building a livable Chicago for all.
Unfortunately, the city’s choice is becoming increasingly clear. Today, they stooped to sowing confusion and anger among parents with robocalls suggesting that there might be school tomorrow. This despite being well aware that the two sides had not reached a deal and the CTU House of Delegates had nothing to vote on. This move is blatantly aimed at undermining the teachers by making it seem as if their indecision — and not the city’s refusal to compromise — was the cause of an eleventh-hour school cancellation. The city is also going after teachers’ basic material needs, threatening to stop paying teachers’ health insurance on November 1 if the strike is not resolved. Coupled with today’s arrests, the city is clearly embarking on a campaign aimed at humiliating, undermining, and threatening the survival of its employees.
- Late last night of SEIU Local 73 announced their tentative agreement with the city and reiterated their solidarity with CTU. Watch the video here.
- Outstanding issues in CTU negotiations include prep time, class sizes, and veteran teacher pay. After a discussion, the CTU House of Delegates decided to continue the strike.
Picket lines will run from 6:30am to 10:30am every day the strike continues. Check out tinyurl.com/cpsstrikesupport to learn more. Make sure to wear red!
The DSA has established pickets, led by Labor Branch strike captains, at these 11 schools:
- Eugene Field Elementary School (7019 N Ashland Blvd, Rogers Park)
- Hibbard Elementary School (3244 W Ainslie St, Albany Park)
- Hyde Park Academy High School (6220 S Stony Island Ave, Hyde Park)
- John A Walsh Public School (2015 S Peoria St, Pilsen)
- Jones College Prep (700 S State St, Loop)
- Linne Elementary School (3221 N Sacramento Ave, Avondale)
- McClellan Elementary School (3527 S Wallace St, Bridgeport)
- Ogden International School of Chicago (1250 W Erie St, West Town)
- Richard Yates Elementary School (1839 N Richmond St, Logan Square)
- Swift Elementary Specialty School (5900 N Winthrop Ave, Edgewater)
- Willa Cather Elementary School (2908 W Washington Blvd, East Garfield Park)
- Join CTU at 12 pm at Roosevelt Rd and Clark St to visit the 78 Chicago development and show Mayor Lightfoot that we know there is money available in the TIF districts.
Bread for Ed
Bread for Ed will be making and distributing food at various areas around the city. If you have time and resources to help with preparation and/or distribution, please email email@example.com and donate if you can. The material needs of students and striking workers will only escalate the longer the strike continues.
One of the last — and most hotly contested — of CTU’s outstanding demands is teacher prep time. CPS refuses to budge on restoring the prep time teachers lost after Mayor Emanuel lengthened the school day. This thread by CPS special ed teacher Katie Osgood outlines how galling CPS’ intransigence on this fundamental issue is.
The extra prep time is a microcosm of all the issues CTU is fighting for. Prep time is, of course, essential to successfully educating kids. Teachers cannot teach without adequate prep. The current CPS policy effectively ensures that they’ll be doing it unpaid, on their own time. That is wage theft. Prep time is also a safety issue. If teachers follow the existing guidelines, they would walk into school at the exact same time as students instead of being there to welcome them into the classroom and start the day. As it stands, teachers can’t prepare classrooms, hold staff meetings, or orient substitutes without wasting extra time.
As Osgood points out, the majority of CPS teachers, particularly at the elementary level, are women. The fact that CPS exploits women workers by continually taking advantage of their unpaid and underpaid labor is unfortunate, but not surprising. By demanding adequate prep time, teachers are merely asking for their time back and guaranteeing their ability to foster a school environment conducive to learning.
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, Sveta Stoytcheva, Nick Hussong and Charlotte Kissinger. Graphics were contributed by Patrick O’Connell. If you would like to contribute to the Red Star Bulletin or have any feedback, email firstname.lastname@example.org.