Bargaining sessions between the Chicago Teacher's Union and the city started late and ended early on Thursday, the first day students missed classes with their teachers on strike, causing Mayor Lori Lightfoot to question the union’s sense of urgency.
“I’m concerned that there’s not a sense of urgency to get a deal done,” Lightfoot said. “My sense of what’s happened in previous circumstances is that the teams bargained from morning to night, seven days of week, with a total sense of urgency to get something done, even though there’s disagreements. We’re not seeing that this time.”
Talks are set to resume Friday, and Lightfoot told WTTW News that she expects more sessions this weekend, though a schedule isn’t yet finalized.
The mayor also doubled down on her decision to not tack days onto the end of the school year to make up for class time missed on account of the strike – a decision which means teachers will lose pay for every day of their walkout, but which also means Chicago’s 300,000 students will lose education time.
“What I’ve heard from the last time there was a strike, the school year extended deep into June, really wreaked havoc on a lot of things related to teachers, related to students, related to families,” Lightfoot said. “I don’t think we have to do that if there’s a seriousness of purpose about getting a deal done.”
CTU leaders say a new $1 billion annual infusion from the state means the district has the funding to meet its demands of hiring more teachers, support staff, counselors, nurses and librarians. The union also wants a 15% raise over three years versus the 16% over five years CPS is offering, and to give teachers an extra half-hour of preparation time (which would shorten classroom time). It also has social demands, like support for affordable housing.
CPS CEO Janice Jackson said that state money is already being used and CTU knows it.
“This notion that we are somehow flush with cash that we can just throw around is misleading and it’s not responsible,” Jackson said. “They know that we’re still borrowing a lot of money to be a solvent district.”
Below, the full interview with Lightfoot and Jackson.
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