Sen. Warren to Striking Chicago Teachers: ‘America Should Support You'

Warren, who took time away from Iowa and other first primary states, is the first of the 2020 candidates to walk the picket line in Chicago

Chicago's teachers strike gained national attention Tuesday as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren walked the picket line with striking teachers. 

"I’m here to stand with Chicago’s teachers. I’m here to stand with Chicago’s nurses. I’m here to stand with Chicago’s librarians. I’m here to stand with Chicago’s bus drivers. I’m here to stand with the low wage workers in Chicago’s schools. I’m here to stand with every one of the people who stand with our children every day," Warren said. "Everyone in America should support you in this strike. And the reason is because when you go out and fight you don’t just fight for yourselves, you fight for the children of this city and the children of this country."  

Warren, who took time away from Iowa and other first primary states, is the first of the 2020 candidates to walk the picket line in Chicago. Bernie Sanders previously held a pre-strike rally in the city. 

Negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union and city officials appeared to be at an impasse Tuesday morning, as the teachers strike entered its fourth day of canceled classes citywide.

While negotiations between the two sides were scheduled to continue at 10 a.m. Tuesday, a majority of the union's 40-person bargaining team was not expected to return to the table.

At a news conference Tuesday morning, CTU President Jesse Sharkey said the union's officers and attorneys will be in negotiations but the rest of the team would be hitting the picket lines at their respective schools. 

Warren's appearance at Oscar Depriest Elementary featured key members of the CTU bargaining unit, which meant many top decision makers were not present for negotiations during the event. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday sent the union a letter asking teachers to return to work without a contract in place.

At a news conference Monday morning, Lightfoot said she found it "unfortunate that the larger bargaining team has decided that they're going to take the day off."

“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,” Lightfoot's 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.”

"Yesterday, negotiations took a turn for the worse after a productive weekend in which we thought we were starting to where we were going to land," Sharkey said."The board essentially followed what the mayor was saying in public, sent a letter to us in fact, and then the negotiators at the table started saying the exact same thing, which was, 'We're out of money; there's no more places for us to go,' which that was extremely disappointing."

On the substance of the district's latest offer, Sharkey said Tuesday "a written proposal and an adequate written proposal are two different things."

"For example, on class size in the CPS contract, the mayor has offered relief in about 15% of our overcrowded classrooms. Nothing at all in high school," Sharkey continued, adding that the union found the latest contract proposal from the district to not have adequate enforcement mechanisms on staffing.

"She didn't get it done. She actually turned in her homework but she only did half her homework," Sharkey said.

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