CHICAGO—AFT President Randi Weingarten joined Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery, who is also an AFT vice president, on picket lines this morning as the Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1, an AFT and IFT affiliate, walked off the job in the third-largest school district in the country.
CTU represents more than 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools and, by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. The union authorized a strike last month by 94 percent, and members walked out today after negotiations with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot broke down. Members of the Service Employees International Union, Local 73, who also work in Chicago Public Schools, are also on strike.
“Educators in Chicago want the same thing educators who have walked off the job all across this country want: the resources to give their students what they need,” Weingarten said.
“Mayor Lightfoot promised those resources during her campaign—she ran on a 15-point plan for education justice and equality. But she hasn’t kept those promises: When the rubber meets the road, she’s refusing to put those promises in writing so Chicago’s students, parents and educators can count on them. That is what this strike is about. Other cities, like Los Angeles, Boston and New York, have put their plans in writing. Why can’t Chicago do the same, and give our students the safe and welcoming conditions they need in schools to thrive?
“There’s nothing just about refusing to put in writing an enforceable plan to cap class sizes; there’s nothing equitable about refusing to put in writing a hiring plan for more nurses, librarians and counselors to help students get the care and attention they need in an increasingly complex and divisive world.
“Every student in this city—in this country—deserves a quality public school. So while Chicago’s teachers, paraprofessionals and other school staff would rather be in school than be on strike, they are ready to fight for their students’ future. And the AFT’s 1.7 million members, along with parents, the community and other allies, are right here with them in this fight for great public schools and a better life for our families.”