Contract Talks Remain Hopeful but Strike Plans Continue
The Chicago Teachers Union released a mid-day statement about ongoing contract negotiations and the potential threat of a teachers strike. Negotiations began today at CTU headquarters at 10 a.m. and are expected to go throughout the day. In the meantime, about 700 delegates attended a series of strike training sessions in anticipation for a Monday, September 10th walk-out.
“While it was encouraging to see Board President David Vitale at the table yesterday, both sides remain far apart on core issues such as job security, compensation and how to give our students a better day,” said Stephanie Gadlin, union spokeswoman. “We recognize the tight budget constraints and have always been willing to work with the District to see how we can best utilize the budget and compensate our members and ensure our schools are well-resourced.
“Talks are expected to continue through the weekend,” she continued. “Our negotiating team is available 24 hours, around the clock. If a contract is produced, a special session of our House of Delegates would be called in order to cancel a strike. As it stands there is no plan to do that.
“We also have concerns about CPS’ ‘Contingency Plan.’ It sounds like a train wreck. It calls for parents to drop off their children at holding centers for a half day of babysitting staffed by strangers, suits from Central Office and preachers. Most of these people have zero experience working with schoolchildren or large groups of teens. It’s the equivalent of opening a fire station without firefighters and giving a bunch of lawyers, accountants and clerical workers a few fire hoses and rubber boots. According to a ‘how-to-be-a teacher guide’ distributed to holding center workers, CPS tells them to provide eighth graders with the same activities as third graders.
“Chicago’s public school educators can think of better ways to spend a whopping $25 million in taxpayer funds--how about on books, librarians, working computers, heat and cooling systems and hiring more teachers, counselors and social workers? The first item on any so-called contingency plan should be to settle the contract,” Gadlin said.
“We call on CPS to stay at the table, get serious about the issues and get this contract done. Whether we strike or not depends on them. Otherwise, we are asking parents to consider utilizing the same plans they had for their children over the summer or they employ on weekends and during the holidays. For those who feel they have no choice but to send their student to a CPS holding center, we ask them to make sure they know who is staffing those facilities and what activities will actually take place.”