CHICAGO (CBS) — Days after a strike is authorized for the Chicago Teachers Union, the date is now set.
CTU’s house of delegates has set a strike date of Oct. 11, if they do not reach a contract agreement with Chicago Public Schools board.
“We want parents to start preparing to join us on the picket lines,” CTU President Karen Lewis said. “We finally said we’re not going to be strung along anymore.”
This means that teachers are one step closer to a strike, CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, and that CTU has given the mandatory 10-day notice of a strike.
By law, the union has to give CPS 10 days before it strikes. And Lewis says if there’s no agreement, the union is ready to strike.
“It’s time to move this along. We’ve gone almost an entire year without a contract,” CTU President Karen Lewis said at a press conference held in Chinatown Wednesday night. “We’re saying, this is the time to do it.”
The threat of a strike gives the teacher’s union some leverage in ongoing contract talks, CBS 2’s Audrina Bigos reports.
The last major strike was in 2012. On Aug. 30 that year, the CTU house of delegates set a strike date of Sept. 10.
The difference now is that CTU’s 40-member bargaining team has already rejected one contract. CBS 2 sources say CPS keeps giving CTU the same contract, and bargaining team members keep giving it back.
Sources say they want to ensure that more teachers are not cut. Additionally, teachers want to know whether or not a group of 1500 teachers CPS is offering a bonus to if they retire would be replaced in the classroom.
Among other sticking points in negotiations are pay cuts, pension cuts and staff cuts of not only teachers, but librarians, bus drivers and nurses.
Sources also want to confirm if CPS will open more charter schools.
Lewis said negotiations are expected to intensify over the next couple of weeks.
“We’re going to continue to try to reach an agreement on this contract,” Lewis said.
Outside the delegate meeting, people against the strike held an anti-strike vigil, with prayers to keep kids safe during a proposed strike. “We need the schools open,” parent James Dukes prayed.
Parents are calling on the community to step up if there’s a strike, and offer safe havens for students.
“We’re even calling on the police stations because these children are going to need a safe haven,” parent Latasha Fields said. “They are going to need a place to be if this strike take place.”
At the press conference following the CTU delegates vote, Lewis asked CPS parents to put political pressure on Mayor Rahm Emanuel, wanting him to tap into TIF (tax increment financing) funding. An October strike would be the second time teachers walked out in Emanuel’s tenure.
“Mayor Rahm Emanuel has it within his power to solve this problem,” a CTU supporter said.
After the meeting, a CPS spokesperson responded to the set strike date, saying, “We believe a strike can be averted and CPS will work tirelessly at the bargaining table.”
So far, the board and union have scheduled three days this week for negotiations.