CTU president announces no May 1 'strike' even before the House of Delegates meeting...
Despite the fact that the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates will not be meeting until the evening of April 7, 2017, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis told reporters from the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune on April 6 that the union would not be doing another one-day so-called "strike" on May 1. The news reports apparently came out of the fact that the union's Executive Board, which met on April 3, decided not to recommend the May 1 "strike" as a response to the threat of furloughs for the entire month of June by CPS CEO Forrest Claypool.
SUN TIMES STORY:
CTU leaders not recommending strike on May 1, ‘action’ instead, April 4, 2017, By Lauren FitzPatrick
The Chicago Teachers Union is no longer suggesting a one-day strike on May 1, as it had previously planned its delegates to consider.
The agenda item that delegates will be asked to vote on Wednesday night will instead suggest an “action” in solidarity with workers and with immigrants and their families who also will hold rallies that Monday, International Labor Day, CTU sources said.
Last month, CTU leadership had asked the delegates, who make up its governing body, to discuss what to do, including walking off the job: “Resolved that the CTU delegates will conduct discussions and hold meetings in their workplaces about a May 1st strike for revenue in solidarity with labor and immigrants, with the aim of taking a vote in the regular April 5th House of Delegates meeting on whether or not to recommend a one-day strike to the CTU membership.”
CTU members were angry about losing four unpaid furlough days when they were scheduled for training, and about Chicago Public Schools’ threat to cancel school as early as June 1, 13 school days early, to save millions needed to plug a budget gap. The second of the unpaid furloughs for all district employees is Friday.
Vice President Jesse Sharkey had said the delegates would take a vote on what to do at their April meeting after discussing the possibilities at their schools.
Many teachers, though upset about budget conditions, were loath to volunteer to give up another day’s pay.
The word “strike” no longer appears on the agenda, but it remains a possibility for delegates to debate at Wednesday night’s meeting.
Meanwhile, CPS has filed complaints with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, asking the appointed board members to stop the strike before it could happen.
CPS went to the same board last year after the CTU walked off the job for a single day on April 1 to protest budget conditions and won a ruling that declared that strike illegal.
CPS had passed its operating budget, counting on $215 million from the state that Gov. Bruce Rauner said was contingent on “pension reform.” In December, he vetoed the legislation containing that money, saying that the conditions hadn’t been met.
District leaders have scrambled to fill the gap with furloughs and budget freezes, and filed a civil rights lawsuit against Rauner and other state leaders demanding more funding for the city’s minority students. They urged the union not to give up any more instructional days and reminded the union that anyone who didn’t go to work on May 1 wouldn’t be paid.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE STORY...
Chicago Teachers Union's Karen Lewis: 'No, we're not striking' on May 1 by Juan Perez
Chicago Teachers Union leaders won't ask the union's governing body to advance a proposal for a one-day walkout on May 1, CTU President Karen Lewis said Tuesday, although another union official said the issue is still up for debate.
The union's House of Delegates on Wednesday will consider a proposal that would keep teachers on the job but ask them to show support for worker demonstrations planned for May Day, Lewis said.
"No, we're not striking," Lewis said in an interview on Tuesday. "They're going to be asked to participate in May Day activities, because May Day is a really important day."
Another union official said it's not clear what plan would emerge after what's expected to be a heated debate at Wednesday's delegates meeting.
"There's still going to be a lot of member opinions on this matter," CTU staff coordinator Jackson Potter said. "There are other resolutions that we're hearing about that other members are also bringing forward. ... There's going to be a very robust discussion. I just don't think it's a done deal."
CTU last month asked teachers to discuss a one-day walkout that would be staged in an effort to bring attention to budget problems that Chicago Public Schools officials warn could force an early end to the school year.
Lewis and union officials have argued that ending the school year as many as three weeks ahead of schedule would violate the union's contract. But the strike idea has faced some skepticism from members, as well as legal opposition from CPS.
CPS restarted an effort to block teachers from walking out after state officials rejected a district request to enforce a ruling that a similar one-day strike by CTU last April likely violated state law.
Lewis said the union's executive board crafted a resolution "about how to support May 1, in terms of supporting our families and our communities."
The board wanted a resolution that focused on those issues, "as opposed to focusing on us," Lewis said.
The union is fighting a series of district cost-cutting efforts to close a looming year-end budget gap. Those cuts include three remaining furlough days, one on Friday and two more in June. Lewis said the union plans to focus on asking CPS to back off on furlough days, which don't affect classroom time but will cut teacher pay.
"What we really want to do is for them to uphold our contract," Lewis said. "We're trying to negotiate that. Those are the kinds of things that just take time."
CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey acknowledged last month that the union's faced "a hard discussion internally" over the potential work stoppage. On Tuesday, he said the delegates will have their say at Wednesday's meeting.
"We're going to have an internal discussion first, and our delegates are the highest decision-making body in the organization, short of all our members," the union vice president said. "Our delegates are famously opinionated ... and I want to talk to them first."