It appears the Chicago Teachers Union strike won't end any time soon after Mayor Lori Lightfoot sent the union a letter on Monday that CTU President Jesse Sharkey said “dashed hopes” for a quick settlement.
In the letter, Lightfoot and CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson called for the Chicago Teachers Union to put an end to the strike and have teachers return to classrooms as negotiations continue.
Chicago Public Schools will not be in session for a fourth day, on Tuesday, as a result of the strike.
In the letter addressed to Sharkey, Lightfoot and Jackson cited the hardships that parents and students are going through during the work stoppage.
“The students and families of Chicago cannot afford to be out of school for any longer, which is why we are asking you to end the strike and encourage your members to return to work while bargaining continues,” the letter read. “As someone who is concerned about the success of our students, we hope you see how necessary it is to reopen schools at this time.”
In response, Sharkey said, "I don't know if the mayor knows how labor negotiations work... We're not going back to work without a legally binding agreement."
While CPS buildings have remained open to give students a place to go during the day, Lightfoot said that the canceled athletic events and extracurricular activities were making the work stoppage especially difficult to deal with.
“Our children and families do not have the luxury of additional days out of school to wait for the process to play out,” the letter said. “We ask CTU to stay at the bargaining table and accelerate the pace (of negotiations), but end the strike and encourage your members to come back to work."
At a news conference on Monday night, Sharkey, the CTU president, stated union members felt that all the progress they were making had stopped. He said the union was told there was "no more room at the table" to reach a rapid, just and fair settlement.
"The mayor has said that she was willing to put in writing a series of promises, but apparently her pen ran out of ink halfway through her homework assignment," Sharkey said. "It's only half-finished. As teachers, that's an F."
Although union members will still be available for negotiations, the CTU said an agreement isn't likely unless the city is willing to "make meaningful changes."