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CTU considering another one-day strike, this one on May 1

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and her members picket during a one-day teachers' strike on April 1, 2016. | Sun-Times file photo

Angry about the prospect of losing 13 school days at the end of the year, and the fact that a long-term funding for city schools remains elusive, the Chicago Teachers Union delegates agreed to consider another single-day strike on May 1.

“We’re very much thinking about how we put pressure on the state and local governments to fund schools,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said. “For us, everyone isolated in their own living room feeling bad about it, being laid off one day at a time, is much less effective than all of us together out in the street showing our unity with a clear message about the revenue funding our schools.”

The CTU has lodged complaints about losing four training days already in unpaid furloughs, and its leaders had set an agenda item for Wednesday’s House of Delegates meeting to open a discussion into a strike on May 1, International Labor Day. The CTU tweeted out that the resolution passed. A final vote on whether to have a one-day strike would be expected in April.

The agenda item on the House of Delegates meeting for Wednesday night read “Resolved that the CTU delegates will conduct discussions and hold meetings in their workplaces about a May 1st strike for revenue in solidarity with labor and immigrants, with the aim of taking a vote in the regular April 5th House of Delegates meeting on whether or not to recommend a one-day strike to the CTU membership.”

There is precedent for a one-day strike. The teachers had one last year, on April 1, in the midst of contract talks and issues involving state funding of CPS. The school-funding issue remains unresolved, with CPS trying to fill a $215 million budget gap.

CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner said that last year’s one-day strike was not only deemed illegal by a state board but that CTU president Karen Lewis promised that the union wouldn’t illegally strike again.

“The Governor’s $215 million cut blew a hole in the CPS budget that is forcing painful choices, and we should all work to avoid students losing days of instruction and teachers losing days of pay,” she wrote in a statement. “We hope that all Chicagoans can stand united against Gov. Rauner’s racially discriminatory funding, which is at the root of CPS’ funding challenges.”

Bittner also pointed to April 7 as a day when students already aren’t scheduled to be in school because it’s one of the four unpaid furloughs. “If the CTU held demonstrations that day, it would not impact student learning,” she said, adding that anyone who doesn’t go to work on May 1 won’t be paid.