WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement in response to the news that the Chicago Teachers Union, AFT Local 1, reached a return-to-work agreement with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and will return to classes tomorrow:
“More than 20 years ago, in 1995, educators in Chicago were stripped of their right to bargain, and with that, they lost their voice to influence their students’ learning conditions and their own teaching conditions. As a result, Chicago’s students—particularly students of color and students with special needs—lost out on so many things they needed in schools, including losing many of the neighborhood public schools themselves. This contract is the culmination of a generational struggle to make up those losses. The members and leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union have taken on these inequities and fought for the conditions our kids need and the respect our educators deserve. With this agreement, if ratified, they’re one giant step closer.
“This historic fight for what students deserve—nurses and counselors in every school, librarians, class-size caps, and additional investments in special education—represents a paradigm shift: It wasn’t simply a fight to mitigate the damage of austerity, it was a fight to create the conditions that both students and educators need. This strike, like so many other fights to fund our future, is about building the political will to strengthen our public schools so all kids have their shot at success.
“We thank the Chicago community for standing with us and are glad Mayor Lightfoot heard us. We congratulate CTU’s leadership, its bargaining team and every member it represents for the work they did and continue to do. I saw their commitment to this fight and their students at every picket line and rally I joined. I want to thank CTU President Jesse Sharkey and Vice President Stacy Davis-Gates for their incredible leadership.
“Together with SEIU Local 73 and every parent, student and ally who stood with CTU Local 1—including our state affiliate, the Illinois Federation of Teachers—we know this: We have helped make Chicago’s public schools safe, welcoming sanctuaries of learning, and we have shown an entire nation that when we fight together, we win.”