CPS Files Labor Complaint to Prevent Future ‘Illegal' Teacher Strikes

Nearly 340,000 students missed class Friday as the union staged a one-day strike to protest education cuts and inadequate state funding

Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool said Friday the district has filed a complaint lawsuit with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board to prevent further "illegal" strikes from the Chicago Teachers Union.

During a press conference Friday afternoon, Claypool stated that the district is seeking a premanent, pre-emptive injuction in an effort to eliminate "similar illegal strikes going forward."

"We think it's important that it be clearly established that whether children are in school, being educated is not subject to the whims of the Chicago Teachers Union," he said. "It is subject to clear, unambiguous state of law."

Nearly 340,000 students missed class Friday as the union staged a one-day strike to protest education cuts and inadequate state funding.

Claypool also asked the union to reimburse CPS and partners for the expenses needed to maintain contingency sites for students during the strike. 

"We hope that now that this day has passed, that we can get back to the real issue, back to the bargaining table," he said. 

Claypool acknowledged the strike put teachers "in a difficult situation" and said the district welcomes them back Monday "so they can get back to what they want to do, which is teaching."

The CTU called the district's legal actions "bogus" and said they disagree with the decision.

“The Supreme Court 60 years ago authorized unfair labor practice strikes under the National Labor Relations Action and we believe teachers have those rights," CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin said in a statement. "This was a one day job action. Their charges were filed after the fact and they seek to enjoin us from doing something have no intention of doing again. We call on CPS to join us in fighting for more revenue for schools.”

CTU president Karen Lewis said the strike was necessary because schools are at a crisis point that demands action now. She walked the picket line at King College Prep High School and Beasley Elementary on the city’s South Side where she told reporters the protests seemed to be "going really well."

"We're at a crisis point so we either do something now or it's going to be worse later," Lewis said.

For the teachers who didn't go to work, but also didn't join in the protests Friday, Lewis said "that's OK."

"That tells me they're tired," she said. "It's been a long year."

The teachers aren't alone in their protests, several others groups will demonstrate fighting for their own labor rights. Among them are striking fast food workers, who want the minimum wage raised.

Claypool said roughly 8,000 students attended contingency sites put in place ahead of the strike and called it a "drama-free day."

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