No contract agreement in sight as the teachers strike for fourth day

Ashe Elementary School 2nd Grade Teacher Robin Blake Boose joins several thousand other teachers during a Chicago Teachers Union rally in Washington Park on Oct. 22. (Photo by Marc Monaghan)

By SAMANTHA SMYLIE
Staff writer

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and SEIU Local 73 continued their strike for the fourth full day as negotiations between the City and both unions have come to a halt; bargaining teams went back to the picket lines after Mayor Lightfoot sent a letter to CTU’s leadership that “dashed hopes” of coming to an agreement.

On Monday, Oct. 21, Mayor Lori Lightfoot sent a letter to CTU President Jesse Sharkey that asked the teachers and support staff return to school while the union goes back to bargaining, according to the Chicago Tribune. 

“While we have made progress at the bargaining table, it is unclear that we can reach an agreement today given the current pace. The students and families of Chicago cannot afford to be out of school for any longer, which is why we are asking you to end the strike and encourage your members to return to work while bargaining continues,” said the letter written to President Sharkey.

Over the first two days of the strike, negotiations seemed to be going well as CTU was able to win tentative agreements on staffing to support homeless students, staffing for Pre-K classrooms, naps for Pre-K students and stop counselors from being pulled from their work to substitute for classes. However, the Lightfoot’s letter seemed to dash the glimmer of hope for CTU’s leadership team to gain a fair contract.

“It was clear from the mayor’s letter to the press demanding members go back to work without a contract and from the sudden atmosphere of stonewalling from the CPS team, that the mayor had pulled the plug on negotiations. The CPS team scheduled to negotiate with bus drivers in SEIU 73 spent exactly 12 minutes at the bargaining table. These vindictive actions have served to halt the real progress that the negotiating teams were making toward resolution of the contract,” said a press release written by CTU.

Classes have been cancelled for Wednesday, Oct. 23, and CPS contingency plan is still in effect.

s.smylie@hpherald.com