Chicago Public Schools classes canceled Thursday as teachers strike is on
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and schools chief Janice Jackson announced all Chicago Public Schools classes are canceled for Thursday in anticipation of the strike.
All Chicago Public Schools classes are canceled Thursday ahead of a teachers strike that city officials say should have been avoided.
The announcement from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and schools chief Janice Jackson came Wednesday morning on the heels of the union president telling the city and the public that he’s “overwhelmingly certain” teachers would walk out Thursday.
Lightfoot told reporters at City Hall that she believes concessions she’s made in bargaining should have been enough to reach a deal with the Chicago Teachers Union and avert a strike.
The mayor said she’s offered a 16% pay raise and bent over backward to meet the union’s key concerns — even agreeing, after months of holding out, to put in writing the CTU’s demands over class size and staffing of nurses, librarians and social workers.
Yet she now finds herself facing a work stoppage just months into her term.
“Despite all this, the Chicago Teachers Union plans to forge ahead with a strike,” the mayor said. “Why don’t we have a deal?”
The mayor said bargaining has dragged on because the union has stuck behind several additional demands outside their main proposals, and it wouldn’t be fiscally responsible of her to accede to demands that she estimates would add $2.5 billion to the school district’s budget.
“We value the workers .... Honoring that value is who I am and what I stand for,” Lightfoot said. “But I also must be responsible for the taxpayers who pay for everything that goes on.”
The mayor was flanked by Jackson, CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade and school board President Miguel del Valle, who said he believed the CTU had “stopped bargaining in good faith.”
Del Valle said he agreed with the CTU’s goals on staffing and class size, and he believed the mayor had met the union’s demands on those issues.
“The Chicago Teachers Union was insistent ... that it be in writing,” del Valle said. “The mayor responded. What’s left? I am very disappointed that the Chicago Teachers Union has decided that the common good, which I agree with, is their reason for a work stoppage.
“And so I’m standing here this morning thinking, what’s it going to take? I think the CTU at this point has stopped bargaining in good faith.”
Union President Jesse Sharkey said Tuesday night that the CTU’s bargaining team would recommend to its governing body that it votes to turn down the current offer that’s on the table and carry on with the strike. The House of Delegates is set to meet after school gets out Wednesday afternoon, and the results of the vote are expected in the early evening.