More than 25,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union hit the picket lines on Oct. 17 after the city failed to meet their demands for larger salary increases, smaller class sizes and more support staff in schools.
Citing the physical and mental health problems and homelessness that are barriers to learning for many Chicago students, the union is demanding more school nurses, social workers, counselors and librarians in every school, as well as more special education classroom assistants and case managers — and for all of this to be guaranteed in their contract. The union wants lower class size caps for elementary and middle schools, and the existing caps in high schools to be firm requirements rather than loose guidelines. A Chicago Teachers Union study found nearly a quarter of classrooms in the district are overcrowded and 61 percent of schools have a certified school nurse one day per week or less.
Chicago Teachers Union President, Jesse Sharkey said, “We intend to be on strike until someone comes with good faith and we can earnestly say ‘that looks like a solution to us.’”
During the strike, which entered its sixth day on Oct. 24, schools will remain open for students who need a safe place to go.
The educators were joined on the picket lines by 7,500 special education classroom assistants, custodians, security officers and bus aides from the Service Employees International Union Local 73, whose contract negotiations with the city also stalled.
Educators nationwide — including many UFT members — wore red to work on Oct. 24 in solidarity with Chicago teachers.
Jacobin, Oct. 16
Chicago Tribune, Oct. 17, 22