CHICAGO — With the Chicago Teachers Union set to strike October 17, there was more tough talk by both sides in the press Thursday.
Mayor Lightfoot and the teachers union both say they don’t want to negotiate in the media. But that’s what they’re doing.
“Right now negotiations have not made significant progress,” union president Jesse Sharkey said.
Lightfoot and CTU debated in public a hot topic at the bargaining table. Lightfoot said CTU wants to shorten the elementary school day by adding 30 minutes of paid prep time at the start of the day.
The district won a longer school in negotiations earlier this decade.
“We’re not going to shorten the school day,” Lightfoot said. “That’s not going to happen. Increasing the school day was a very hard-fought win.”
“We’re not trying to rehash the fight of 2012,” Sharkey said. “That’s not our goal and frankly I’m a little concerned the mayor has re-raised the issue.”
“Our proposals go to prep time being a part of the school day that doesn’t require our members to put in unpaid time to do the best job that they can,” union vice president Stacy Davis Gates said. “It also affords our students the opportunity to have an arts class, a music class, a world language class, a physical education class.”
CTU said it continues to demand smaller class sizes and a commitment that CPS put in writing it pledge to hire more nurses and support staff. But the mayor dismissed that talk and said CTU hasn’t presented a formal counter-proposal to its contract offers.
“They need to come to the table with written substantive proposals that respond to the offers that we have put on the table,” Lightfoot said.
“It doesn’t require me to write a dissertation to say we are not giving back prep time. I can make a valid response with two letters and a punctuation make - no, period,” Sharkey said. “But what I would say is that the city hasn’t responded to our demand which are demands are about staffing, which are demands about class size.”
Both sides plan to remain at the bargaining table and to continue to try to win public support through the press.