Tuesday, March 15, 2016

One Day Strike?

CTU Delegates Must Decide on One-Day Strike Action
By Jim Vail
Special to MyChiNews.com

CTU President Karen Lewis needs to think about the strike.

The Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates will decide March 23 if the teachers will walk out of school on April 1st in a one-day strike in which CTU members will not work but rather picket their schools and then go downtown to rally.

The CTU is saying “Shut it Down” to protest the lack of state funding and making teachers and public schools pay while the banks and rich do not.

“We’re calling for mass demonstrations,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey told the Chicago Sun-Times.

What is not clear is how the teachers see this one-day action.

Several high school and elementary school teachers are questioning if a one-day action will do the job. Teachers are ready to strike, once the negotiations have failed, and the deadline is met.

There are also high school and elementary teachers who support this one-day strike action.

The debate will be lively at next week’s delegates meeting, and a testament to democracy in the 28,000 teachers union.

The CTU lawyer told the corporate media that the one-day strike is legal because it would be based on an “unfair labor practice” charge that the district failed to pay annual raises based on experience and credentials.

However, in an email to teachers, the CTU said the mayor and governor will say the strike is illegal, as the mayor did in 2012, and that Gov. Bruce Rauner controls the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board which rules on the unfair labor practice charges.

“The only sure thing is that when we take our destiny into our own hands, we have more control over the outcome. They cannot replace 28,000 educators. When we are united and build strong alliances, there is little they can do to stop us.”

The CTU said they are hoping “tens of thousands” of parents and children, university students and many others in the city affected by the budget impasse will be downtown to show support for school funding.

CPS said any one-day strike is “illegal” because the fact-finding is still on-going during negotiations, and told the media it is looking at its options to stop the one-day action.

Confusion for teachers, including myself who is a delegate at a school on the southwest side, resulted from the fact that the union has not called this a strike, but rather a “one-day job action.”

“This is a one-day job action to protest inaction on our contract, bad-faith bargaining by Chicago Public Schools and the lack of funding for our schools,” the CTU email to teachers stated. “The date for an action like this must be officially set by the House of Delegates.

Negotiations continue and the union leadership believes that massive actions like this one scheduled will put pressure on the city to settle favorably for the teachers and public schools.

However, the most powerful action will be the strike if negotiations fail.

But a strike depends on many factors, including whether or not CTU President Karen Lewis is serious about settling before walking off the job for a possibly much longer time period. Of course, that also depends on CPS.

“If we must strike to settle our labor contract, that strike will last as long as necessary to win a fair contract,” the CTU further stated. “But our April 1 job action is to send a message – to (Schools CEO Forrest) Claypool, (Chicago Mayor) Rahm (Emanuel) and Rauner – that we are fed up with their bad faith policies that shortchange our students and educators.” 

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