CTU Calls for $15/Hour Minimum Wage

The Chicago City Council recently approved a gradual increase in the minimum wage, bringing it to $13 an hour by 2019

The Chicago Teachers Union wants all workers, including those subcontracted by the district, to earn at least $15 per hour.

The union on Wednesday called on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to set the standard, joining the "Fight for 15" campaign started by fast food workers. 

The group held a rally outside the Chicago Public Schools' Loop office where they called for a $15 minimum wage for all CPS employees, including all subcontracted workers. The group also called for "livable wages" for Safe Passage workers. 

“CPS employees need higher wages now, not in a couple of years, because many of our working families cannot wait any longer for a living wage—nor should they,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said in a statement. “We will fight for a $15 an hour minimum wage not just for school staff, but also for Safe Passage workers, many of whom are parents providing for their own families while ensuring the safety of the children of others.”

The group also wants all CTU members to receive at least $15 an hour.

They plan to take their case to a Board of Education meeting, where workers were scheduled to testify.

Emanuel's challenger in the April 7 mayoral race, Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, who last year received an endorsement from the CTU, attended the rally.

"It is important that every employee and every subcontracted employee of Chicago Public Schools earn a living wage," Garcia said. "I stand here today as someone who understands the plight of thousands and thousands of chicagoans in chicago neighborhoods who need to increase their wages."

The Chicago City Council recently approved a gradual increase in the minimum wage, bringing it to $13 an hour by 2019.

"I've witnessed the impact that poverty can have on a child's education and this is why the board enthusiastically followed the Mayor’s lead last year to raise the minimum wage to $13/hour," CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in a statement.

Among those subcontracted by the district are the parents and neighborhood residents who help students to and from school under the "Safe Passage" program, which was created after the school board closed about 50 neighborhood schools, forcing some children to walk to different neighborhoods

Separately, the Service Employees International Union Local 1 said school janitors will rally outside the Wednesday meeting to call for higher wages, better benefits and more full-time positions. Many janitors were laid off by a subcontractor and hired back part-time.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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