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‘Clean-up’ action will demand end to school cleanliness crisis

Press conference/‘clean-up’ action: 8AM, Friday, April 13
Kenwood High School, 5015 S Blackstone Ave., Chicago

Parents, students, elected officials, teachers to demand hiring of 500 janitors to tackle systemic school cleanliness crisis, restoration of CTU right to bargain for clean schools and decent learning conditions, and termination of mayor’s failed control of schools.

CHICAGO—For decades, Chicago teachers and staff led the battle to improve conditions in public schools. In 1995, the state legislature handed control of CPS to the mayor and gutted the ability of the CTU and other unions in the schools to bargain on non-economic issues – including school cleanliness, which has been exposed in recent weeks to be critically deficient.

Parents, students, teachers, CTU officers and elected officials will take their concerns about CPS’ school cleanliness crisis to Kenwood High School, at 5015 S. Blackstone, at 8AM TODAY, Friday, April 13. They’ll demand that educators be re-empowered to tackle the issue – and do their own snap health and safety inspection of the high school.

A number of participants in Hazmat suits will seek to enter Kenwood to conduct an independent inspection for health and safety hazards – and declare troubled areas off limits until Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel moves to solve CPS' cleanliness crisis. Emanuel began privatizing CPS janitorial and maintenance services in 2012, providing over three-quarters of a billion dollars to politically connected contractors who have slashed janitorial staff and shortchanged cleaning supplies, driving increasingly deplorable conditions in many schools.

Participants in today’s action argue that facility needs in a majority of schools in the city’s Black and Latinx neighborhoods are neglected, often creating real threats to the health and safety of students and staff. They’re calling on Emanuel to support the demands of union custodians to increase their ranks by 500 to mitigate punishing workloads, rodent and insect infestations and other critical facilities issues, and they’re demanding that the state legislature return the right to bargain over school conditions like class size and school cleanliness to CTU members. A bill to restore those rights, HB 4776, was passed Tuesday by the Illinois House Labor & Commerce Committee. The bill strikes Section 4.5 of the Illinois Education Labor Relations Act, restoring the CTU’s ability to bargain—and potentially strike—over non-monetary issues like school cleanliness, a right denied only to teachers in Chicago.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in schools funded by City of Chicago School District 299, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information, please visit the CTU website at


Chicago Teachers Union