Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday again accused the Chicago Teachers Union of ignoring the city’s contract proposals – but said a strike isn’t a foregone conclusion.
“We still have plenty of time to get a deal done, but we have to get a comprehensive response, a counterproposal, from the CTU to the big issues: compensation, insurance, benefits,” said Lightfoot, appearing on “Chicago Tonight” alongside Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson. “I’m confident that if we come to the table in good faith, with the talent that’s on both sides, we can absolutely get a deal done.”
The CTU has repeatedly called for contract provisions that would address issues like staffing levels for nurses and social workers in schools, student homelessness and affordable housing for CPS families and educators.
“The people at the table this year are former educators. I think it is, in fact, the case that most of the people sitting on both sides of the table agree on the same issues,” said Jackson. “But we have to bargain in good faith, we have to bargain based on the things that the (collective bargaining agreement) allows us to discuss, and we also have to have trusting relationships with one another to address some of the other quality of life issues that have been raised.”
To that point, Lightfoot reiterated her call for the CTU to make public its proposals on affordable housing issues, but to do so in City Council or by working with Lightfoot’s newly appointed housing commissioner.
“I share their values on that. We’re in an affordable housing crisis. I’ve been talking about that for over a year, from the campaign till now. There’s a time and a place for that, but it’s not inside of the CTU contract,” Lightfoot said.
If the city and the CTU fail to reach a deal, teachers – along with SEIU-represented support staff and unionized Chicago Park District employees – will walk off the job Oct. 17. If that happens, Jackson stressed that school buildings will remain open for parents, and that students will be offered a meal and “productive activity.”