Chicago Teachers Union Calls Budget Cuts ‘An Act of War’

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The Chicago Teachers Union closed a $700,000 bank account Wednesday in response to what they’re calling Chicago Public Schools’ “act of war” in the form of millions of dollars of proposed school budget cuts.

A day after the bargaining team for the Chicago Teachers Union unanimously rejected a contract offer from the Chicago Board of Education, Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool unveiled Tuesday that CPS will cut $100 million from school budgets to help decrease its deficit. Claypool also announced a plan to stop contributing to the teacher’s pension funds as early as next month.

CTU vowed to meet at Bank of America at 10 a.m. Wednesday and close their bank account to show CPS can’t be trusted.

"We will be transferring the funds to a bank that is not profiting off of toxic interest rates swaps," CTU's recording secretary Michael Brunson said. "How can anyone believe that students or teachers should give up one cent when they won't even make a good faith effort to win back effort from these banks."

Bank of America said in a statement to NBC Chicago the corporation doesn't comment on customer relationships.

"Regarding the planned protest, we’ll work to ensure that our customers will be able to conduct their business at our financial centers without disruption in service," said Bank of America spokeswoman Diane Wagner.

The union says CPS is paying fees to the bank for bad investments, but is claiming it doesn't have enough money to pay for teacher's pensions. The district, on the other hand, says the financial dangers are real.

“This is something I had hoped to avoid at all costs,” Claypool said.

CTU hopes closing the account will stand as a symbolic gesture, pointing out that Mayor Rahm Emanuel refuses to look for other revenue options to help the cash-strapped school district.

The district believes the cuts are a necessary move, given that the union unanimously rejected the last contract offer Monday, but CTU says it’s retaliation for their dismissal of the offer.

“We will not be bought, we will not be bullied, and the district cannot continue to betray us,” said CTU president Karen Lewis. “

Support staff, including teacher’s aides, are the ones expected to most affect in the mass layoffs.

Governor Bruce Rauner said he is still hopeful that the state can get involved and take over Chicago Public Schools.

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