Washington—Statement of AFT President Randi Weingarten in support of striking Chicago Teachers Union members.
"For the first time in 25 years, the members of the Chicago Teachers Union are on strike. No one wants to strike, and no one strikes without cause. In this instance, it comes on the heels of numerous steps that left CTU members feeling disrespected, not the least of which was the district's unilateral decision to strip teachers and paraprofessionals of an agreed-upon 4 percent raise. The strike comes only after long and intense negotiations failed to lead to an agreement that would give CTU members the tools they need to help all their students succeed.
"The American Federation of Teachers and our members across the country stand firmly with the CTU, and we will support its members in their efforts to secure a fair contract that will enable them to give their students the best opportunities.
"CTU members—the women and men who spend every day with Chicago's children—want to have their voice and experience respected and valued. They want to be treated as equal partners in making sure every student in Chicago succeeds. That has been the CTU's guiding philosophy throughout these negotiations, and it remains so on the picket lines.
"The Chicago Teachers Union is the AFT's Local No. 1. The AFT was founded in Chicago 100 years ago by teachers determined to have a voice in the quality of their workplace and the quality of the instruction provided to their students. They knew then, as CTU members know now, that collective action was the only way to improve their schools, their communities and their students' education. We know that the members of the CTU are prepared to stay on the picket lines. We also know they would rather be on the job, in the classroom educating their students.
"CTU President Karen Lewis made clear last night that the CTU is prepared to continue negotiations during the strike. Mayor Rahm Emanuel echoed that sentiment on behalf of the district. The students, teachers and educational support staff—and the city of Chicago—deserve a school system that works for everyone. In the end, that is what this strike is all about."