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Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis’ statement on agreement with Board of Education

CHICAGO – Today the Chicago Teachers Union President Karen GJ Lewis released the following statement regarding an agreement between the Union and the Board of Education on the debate over implementing a “longer school day” this year in neighborhood schools:

“On October 20th, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board authorized Attorney General Lisa Madigan to seek an injunction blocking the Chicago Public Schools from extending the longer school day to any more schools by unlawful means.

“Attorney General Lisa Madigan notified the CTU and CPS that she was prepared to file for that injunction.

“But I am pleased to report to you that after an 8-hour meeting yesterday, CPS has voluntarily agreed to stop the unlawful school waiver program of in its tracks.  The meeting was attended by Vice President Jesse Sharkey and me, Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, School Board President David Vitale, CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, and others.

“CPS has agreed in writing that for the duration of this school year it will not conduct any more waiver votes to lengthen the school day and it will not implement longer school days at any more CTU-represented schools than the 13 schools that previously voted for them.

“Further, CPS has agreed in writing to stop dealing directly with Union-represented employees about length of school day or compensation for working it, to stop offering its employees any inducements to agree to a longer school day, and to stop violating our labor contract.

“The ultimate fate of the 13 schools that voted for longer day waivers will be decided after a formal hearing in December.  In its October 20th Order, the Labor Board ruled there was significant likelihood that the votes at those schools were illegal.  But the Labor Board did not demand to enjoin them because it would be disruptive to force them to change their curriculum a second time, mid-year, and we respect that decision.  These 13 schools are less than 2 percent of total number of CPS schools, employ less than 1% of CPS teachers, and educate less than ½ percent of CPS students.

“We respectfully acknowledge the Chicago Public Schools and CEO Jean-Claude Brizard for voluntarily agreeing to stop the longer day waiver program in its tracks rather than forcing a showdown with the Attorney General.   As part of our agreement, Mr. Brizard is personally notifying every CPS teacher and paraprofessional today of his decision to stop conducting the waiver votes and stop direct dealing with CPS teachers.  

“As the Union has stated numerous times on the record, it does not oppose a longer school day, but it seeks a better school day that is fairly implemented.

“I am happy to report that the CTU, Board and Mayor came to an agreement to end the dispute over longer school day waivers.

“This means that we can get back to the important work of teaching our students and discussing how to best improve our school day.  Research is clear that a broad curriculum and smaller class sizes are key to improving student performance.  We look forward to discussing with the Board how to best implement a school day, district wide, that is not just longer, but is also better.

“As the IELRB stated in its October 20, 2011 order, ‘The hallmark of American law is the contract.  It is the basis of the American rule of law and freedom.  In America, the parties freely choose to enter into an agreement and to be bound by the four corners of the agreement for the agreed upon term.  Here, the contract at issue is a collective bargaining agreement between the Union and the Employer.  ….. In the United States of America, no entity is above the law.  No individual, corporation or governmental entity is free to unilaterally abrogate its contractual agreements without following the appropriate legal process, in this case review by the administrative agency established by the legislature to administer the law, and ultimately by the courts, as they have final review of administrative rulings.’

“Now that everyone is in agreement that negotiations over how to improve educational performance in Chicago need to respect the rule of law, we can get on to actually talking about how to do that.”

A copy of the signed agreement can be downloaded here.


The Chicago Teachers Union represents 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools and, by extension, the students and families they serve. CTU, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, is the third largest teachers local in the country and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information visit CTU’s website at


Chicago Teachers Union