Chicago Public Schools

Protesters Arrested During CTU Demonstration at Sterling Bay

As the sit-in outside the offices shifted, a number of teachers were seen entering the building before they were handcuffed and escorted out by police

Several protesters were arrested Tuesday afternoon during a Chicago Teachers Union demonstration at the offices of Sterling Bay, the developer behind the controversial Lincoln Yards project. 

The group gathered outside Sterling Bay's offices around 12:45 p.m., some holding signs that read "Choose Schools over Sterling Bay." 

The protesters argued TIF funds being put toward the massive Lincoln Yards development project should instead be given to schools and teachers. 

"We are targeting Lincoln Yards because it’s being funded in part by TIF money that should be going to our schools," the union wrote in a statement early Tuesday morning. "If Lightfoot wanted to settle the contract TODAY, she would only need to declare an additional TIF surplus to do so. Lincoln Yards got everything it wanted in writing. Why can’t we get everything our students deserve?"

As the sit-in outside the offices shifted, a number of protesters were seen entering the building before they were handcuffed and escorted out by police. 

Sterling Bay tweeted the arrests were made "at the request of Fulton West's new management and ownership, not Sterling Bay."

Chicago police said they were called just before 2 p.m. to a building in the 1300 block of West Fulton "where numerous individuals were inside and refusing to leave." 

"Police gave the offenders warnings to leave the building, which were refused," a statement from Chicago Police News Affairs read. 

Nine people were taken into custody at the scene and charges were pending, authorities said. Police could not immediately confirm if those arrested were teachers. 

The Chicago Teachers Union has called a House of Delegates meeting Tuesday evening, bringing union leaders together as negotiations continued despite a marathon bargaining session that failed to yield an agreement. 

It remains unclear if a deal will be reached Tuesday as the ongoing strike entered a ninth consecutive day of canceled classes. The meeting is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m.

Both sides left the bargaining table after 2 a.m. CST following roughly 16 hours of negotiations, with each continuing to point fingers. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday accused the teachers union's bargaining team of moving the goal posts in negotiations.

"We came so close, nearly to a tentative agreement on the biggest issues at stake, the two that CTU defined for us as their core issues: class size and staffing," Lightfoot said at a news conference, saying Chicago Public Schools' team had made "significant compromises to resolve these issues."

Lightfoot said the district offered an additional $70 million for staffing, including a nurse and social worker in every school, as well as $25 million dedicated to reducing class sizes, all in writing in the contract, as the union had requested.

"All told, this is a half a billion dollar offer and yet we still do not have a deal," Lighfoot said. "Instead the CTU's bargaining team continues to move the goal post and bring in more issues that do not belong in any collective bargaining contract. They've now informed us that they want us to bargain over several other matters that are legislative in nature, not contract issues."

"For example, they're demanding that I support a specific bill about an elected school board, a bill that I fundamentally think is flawed and rejected," she continued. "They also want to negotiate over a change to the state labor law that governs what issues the union can strike over. Again, this is a legislative issue not a contract issue. Are we really keeping our kids out of class unless I agree to support the CTU's full political agenda wholesale?"

CTU's general counsel Robert Bloch told a different story when emerging from negotiations overnight.

"The union has laid out a path for the settlement. We're waiting to hear from the city tomorrow morning," Bloch said at an impromptu news conference in the early morning hours.

"The issues are the same, same sticking points we've had for some time but we believe that with some additional resources we can get it done," he said.

"We believe we've shown the mayor how she can settle this contract and achieve real increases in staffing, sufficient increases in staffing to meet the objectives that we all share, real class size guarantees that the mayor has said that she supports and protection for our lowest paid members and our veteran members," Bloch continued, adding, "There are a lot of moving parts and there's different ways to approach some of the needs that our teachers have and that the students need. Some cost more money, some cost less money, so we presented some new ideas to the city and we hope they'll respond."

Standing alongside Lightfoot, CPS CEO Janice Jackson said the district's latest offer gave the union "several wins" but said the issue of teacher prep time was another sticking point.

"Our contract is being held up due to a union proposal that would reduce the amount of instructional time for our students. CTU is demanding that we either cut 30 minutes off the school day or pull four full days of instruction off the calendar," Jackson said. "We feel that there is no justifiable reason that kids be prevented from going back into class tomorrow because we refuse to reduce the length of the school day or the length of the school year."

Jackson added that negotiations are "no longer about money" but instead "political issues" and "a last-minute grab to take away precious instructional time that our students need."

CPS announced Monday afternoon that classes would be canceled on Tuesday, the ninth day in a row, now stretching into the strike's third week.

More than 25,000 teachers and support staff in CTU, as well as roughly 7,500 school employees in Service Employees International Union Local 73, went on strike Oct. 17, canceling school for more than 300,000 students in the country's third-largest school district. SEIU announced a tentative agreement with the district on Sunday but said its members would continue to picket with CTU until a deal is reached.

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