CHICAGO (CBS) — Yet another showdown between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union.
Kindergarten through 8th grade students are set to return to in-person learning in a week-and-a-half, but teachers say COVID-19 is still a threat.READ MORE: At Least 15 Shot, 1 Killed In Weekend Violence In Chicago
CBS 2’s Marissa Parra tells us how teachers could be moving towards a strike.
“We’re weeks away from a virus vaccination for our teachers and our school staff. We should be weeks away from reopening our schools,” said Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd), one of more than 30 aldermen who signed a letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson earlier this month, saying they are “deeply concerned” about the reopening plan.
Rodriguez joined a handful of elected city, county, and state officials at Corkery Elementary School on Wednesday to support CTU in its push for more protections for teachers, staff, and students under the CPS reopening plan.
The CTU House of Delegates will meet on Wednesday, and sources said it’s a very real possibility they could ask for a strike authorization vote. However, the delegates don’t necessarily want to set a walk-out date. Instead, they would rather reach a deal to get back to school safely.
The goal is to push CPS to land a deal with the union about a safe return for all teachers to the classroom.
A strike would require over 75% of CTU membership to vote in favor of a work stoppage. There are other possible scenarios, like the CTU asking for teachers to work remotely until the vaccine is available to all of them.READ MORE: MISSING: Queen Redd, 38, Last Seen In Hyde Park In December
The union has been digging their heels, saying they won’t give the green light to go back to classrooms until CPS takes more measures to protect teachers and staff.
“CPS has failed to so much as even notify these employees that they are eligible for the vaccine, let alone proactively schedule appointments for them,” CTU deputy general counsel Thad Goodchild said.
For weeks, the city has been making a push to show that returning to school is safer with new air purifiers in school buildings, stressing that children aren’t the main group the virus spreads through, but several union teachers have said the district’s reopening plan is not good enough.
Both sides met all weekend long to work on a negotiated safety return, and CPS says they are making progress, but the two sides have yet to reach an agreement on terms for in-person classes.
In-person classes resumed last week for students in pre-kindergarten and some special education programs. While the vast majority of teachers and staff have returned to classrooms, many are refusing to show up until CPS agrees to a reopening deal with the union, and plan to continue teaching remotely.
The district has said teachers and staff who don’t show up as required will neither be paid nor able to reach their emails and remote teaching tools.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Mainly Clear And Not As Cold Sunday Night
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