CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Teachers Union wants Chicago Public Schools to take action on an arbitrator’s finding of unsafe conditions in schools, but CPS plans to have the ruling reconsidered.
On Friday, an arbitrator ruled that CPS clerks, clerk assistants, and technology coordinators should be allowed to work remotely when feasible, rather than be required to report to work in person.
“The arbitrator, in effect, found that CPS schools are not currently safe from infection by COVID-19,” CTU general counsel Robert Bloch said.
The union said the arbitrator’s ruling affects 1,000 people working inside CPS buildings since Aug. 31.
“It’s tragic that this ruling — which irrevocably establishes that CPS schools are not yet safe to reopen — has come too late to have helped protect Olga’s life or protect other workers from COVID infection,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said in a statement on Friday. “We expect CPS to move immediately to protect the rest of our members in buildings by allowing them to begin working remotely today, as those workers did effectively from March through August.”
CPS said it will move to have the ruling reconsidered.
“The arbitrator’s deeply flawed ruling substitutes actual public health standards for her own judgements and doesn’t find any actual deficiencies in the district’s plan or a single building where conditions are unsafe,” CPS spokesman Michael Passman said in a statement.
The district said the arbitrator’s ruling ignores the best available public health guidance, and instead substitutes non-scientific benchmarks. Passman said, under the arbitrator’s logic, “no workspace in the country would be safe at this time, which is simply not true.”