Chicago Teachers Union

Red, Purple, Black: What the Colors Worn by Striking Chicago Teachers Mean

A sea of people wearing red, purple and black will soon flow through Chicago's Loop amid a days-long teachers strike in the city. But the colors they're wearing aren't random.

According to the Chicago Teachers Union, each color worn during the march has a meaning. 

Red for Chicago Teachers Union members, purple for Service Employees International Union members and black to represent "the loss of hope that the Lightfoot administration will champion the working class and our students" and "the joint effort with SEIU and [CTU] allies who have supported, strengthened and amplified our picket lines and our movement." 

Thousands of striking Chicago teachers and school staff are planning to march downtown Wednesday as Mayor Lori Lightfoot delivers her first city budget address.

Chicago Teachers Union leaders are then calling for a "mass protest" after the march.

In a statement Tuesday night, the city announced that street closures were expected on a rolling basis beginning early Wednesday morning. Randolph, Washington, Clark, LaSalle, Franklin, and Wacker Drive were all expected to experience closures during the march and rally. 

Commuters were advised to take public transportation if they plan on travelling to the Loop on Wednesday. 

According to the union, there are four different meet-up spots on the edge of the Loop where teachers and marchers are asked to congregate, then the four groups will march to City Hall, where Lightfoot is expected to address the City Council at 10 a.m.

“The city is not done hearing us yet,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said. “Together, we’re going to win.”

Lightfoot will deliver her budget address on Wednesday, and among the topics she’ll discuss are proposals to help fill an $838 million budget gap. The speech is expected to include details on not only how the city is planning to close that gap, but also details on potential tax increases that city residents could face.

With that as the backdrop, negotiations are still ongoing between the two sides in the labor standoff, which will cancel its fifth day of classes on Wednesday. Lightfoot and the city have said they are offering more and more each day to the union in an effort to end the strike, but to no avail just yet.

“There has to be a commitment and a will and a sense of urgency on all sides. That’s what’s going to make a difference,” Lightfoot said.

The city says its latest proposals add up to an additional $500 million more in spending for teachers and their classrooms over the next five years.

Union officials say there was a “good conversation” between the sides on Tuesday, but say they have not landed on “just terms” in those negotiations.

“We understand that we’re not going to solve all problems, but we need to see a substantial down payment and then a plan to address class sizes and other issues,” CTU Chief of Staff Jennifer Johnson said.

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