CTU Votes to Strike on Sept. 10

CPS has plan in place for teachers strike

The Chicago Teacher's Union voted unanimously Thursday to hit the picket lines on September 10.

The results of the vote, cast at a Chinatown union hall, was met by cheers from the more than 700 delegates who voted.

The decision comes a day after CTU president Karen Lewis  issued a 10-day strike notice. September 10 is the earliest that teachers can strike, and the date falls a week after many students head back to class.

"We're tired of being bullied, belittled and betrayed," Lewis said at a news conference following the meeting. "We have done everything asked of us, yet we continue to be vilified and treated with disrespect."

Lewis said negotiations will continue until a contract is hammered out. The teachers are concerned worried about issues that include wages, job security and a new evaluation system.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard released the following statement in reaction to the strike date.

CPS officials have been making preparations in the event of a strike.

Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard said the district plans to keep 145 schools open for half-days even if the Chicago Teachers Union calls a strike and teachers walk off the job. The union on Wednesday filed a 10-day strike notice that would allow them to strike as early as Sept. 10, just a week into the school year for a majority of public-school students.

If that happens Brizard said CPS will partner with City Sister Agencies, local faith organizations and other non-profits to keep kids engaged.

"We need to be prepared to provide our students with services they need should CTU leaders decide to strike, and our Children First plan will do that," Brizard said.

As part of the precautionary strategy announced Thursday, CPS would keep the group of schools open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to provide activities to children and keep them engaged in independent reading, arts, sports and computer-based programming.

Per the plan, the schools would be staffed with Central Office personnel, non-CTU employees and organizations that submit a request for proposals to provide programming. Brizard said the staff-to-student ratio would be capped at 1 to 25.

CPS also said it will provide breakfast and lunch to all students at the locations and will extend between 70 and 80 Chicago Park District summer camps.

Brizard said he's committed to avoid a strike but says CPS will be ready if the teachers strike.

“These plans are simply a precaution," Brizard said, "but we have an obligation and responsibility to our children and their parents to make sure they are not left behind in the event of a strike.”

CPS said it is seeking a waiver from the Illinois High School Association to continue sports if teachers strike.

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