In late October 2019, the Chicago Teachers Union organized its longest teachers strike in more than three decades, spending 15 days — 11 school days — deadlocked in negotiations with Mayor Lori Lightfoot over the specifics of the district’s contract with 25,000 teachers in the union.
What began as standard series of bargaining talks escalated to a messy battle in a matter of days. Key issues that the two sides debated for two weeks included the length of the contract, teacher raises, class size and staffing and preparation time.
The agreement that pushed the deal over the finish line came in the form of a compromise on the final sticking point — how much lost classroom time and teacher pay would be made up. The mayor wanted zero days, and the union wanted 10, so they landed on five of the 11 missed days. The school district still needs to figure out when those days will be added to the calendar.
The five-year contract that ended the strike carries $1.5 billion in new costs. Lightfoot’s 2020 budget includes $163 million from a tax increment financing surplus to help bankroll the first year of the five-year agreement. By closing out five TIFs and scouring all of the others, Lightfoot managed to generate the money, which is $66 million more than the school system received last year.