CTU strike possible after no deal reached between CPS, union

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CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot is insisting that Chicago Public School students return to in-person learning despite failing to reach a deal with the Chicago Teachers Union Friday evening — setting the stage for a possible strike.

The announced Friday night that no deal was reached with the CTU after their 9 p.m. deadline. The mayor said the union is creating chaos.

“CTU has failed and left us with a big bag of nothing,” she said.

Unlike the previous nights where parents were notified of continued remote learning, Lightfoot said she expects teachers to teach in-person for the thousands of students due back on Monday.

“We still plan to welcome pre-K and special needs students back to school on Monday. The teachers need to be there,” she said. “K through 8 on Monday as well, expect these teachers to be there for their students.”

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Lightfoot said the district and CTU have met more than 70 times over the last two weeks, focusing on safety protocols, ventilation, contact tracing, testing, accommodations for staffing, revising closing metrics and vaccinations.

Lightfoot said there was three weeks of success with pre-K and special ed in-person learning, but that CTU “blew it up and created chaos.”

If a strike were to happen, it will be the second in 15 months.

In a statement after a Friday press conference, the union directly pointed the finger at the mayor. The title of the release was “we’ll continue to teach remotely, safely until we have agreement for safe return.”

“Unfortunately, rather than build on the progress that has been made between our Union and the Chicago Public Schools bargaining team, Mayor Lightfoot is disrupting every possible settlement, compromise or partnership. The educators in the room were close to reaching an agreement. The boss stepped in at the 11th hour and blew it to pieces.

“We will continue working toward an agreement, but we need real progress in critical areas. We need a phased-in return tied to voluntary vaccination; baseline testing for students and staff; and accommodations for educators whose household members are at higher risk of COVID-19  illness and death. School districts around the country, in Montgomery, Ala., Memphis, Tenn. and Colorado have all embraced the priorities we are lifting up at the bargaining table.

“We have a willing partner in the CPS team. But CPS needs a willing boss.

“We’ve been promised repeatedly that CPS’ reopening plans are about equity. But it makes no sense to lock out 100 percent of our students when 80 percent of families are keeping their children remote. That’s the opposite of equity. We need a negotiating partner that appreciates every stakeholder in this school district — the educators at the table, the parents who CPS continues to ignore, and the grassroots groups that are pleading for safety in a city that has consistently put their safety dead last.

“In 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 schools that anchored Black families and Black communities for generations. In 2021, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is intent on opening schools to 10 percent of the student population — disproportionately white families from affluent communities — while remote learning for Black and Latinx students becomes secondary.

“If this is equity, then we need a new definition of equity.”

Lightfoot declined to comment on what type of action the district will take if teachers fail to report to school on Monday.

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