Video: CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates weighs in on negotiations Monday on “Chicago Tonight.” (Produced by Paul Caine)
Chicago teachers who did not show up for in-person work Monday will not be locked out of their Google education suites in a “gesture of good faith” from city leaders hoping to reach a deal over a safe school reopening plan and avoid a potential strike.
In a joint statement Monday evening, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson said they “reached another important milestone” in ongoing negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union and expressed hope an agreement could be reached soon.
“We have secured agreement on one other open issue and made substantial progress on a framework that we hope will address the remaining issues,” they said in the statement. “We are calling for a 48-hour cooling off period that will hopefully lead to a final resolution on all open issues.”
Due to that “cooling-off period,” elementary school students who were initially set to return to schools Monday — as well as the pre-kindergarten and special education cluster program students who began in-person learning last month — will continue learning from home until at least Thursday.
Jackson had previously said teachers who refused to show up for in-person work would be locked out of their education suites and not be paid until they returned. But rank-and-file members of the CTU last month approved a resolution expressing their intentions to continue working remotely, and if they were locked out, they could go on strike.
In their statement, Jackson and Lightfoot said that would not happen “for now.”
We had a positive day of bargaining today, and have made some progress, but there is still progress to be made. In order for schools to reopen safely, we must work together to put a plan in place that keeps safety at the forefront of everything we do.
— ChicagoTeachersUnion (@CTULocal1) February 1, 2021
Negotiations resumed Monday after a day off Sunday. The two sides have reached tentative deals covering health and safety rules, classroom ventilation and contact tracing efforts.
In response, CTU President Jesse Sharkey called it “heartening” that Lightfoot and CPS agreed to continue bargaining, adding that teachers will not be locked out due to their “unity, their commitment to their school communities, and their fearless solidarity.”
“We don’t want a strike,” he said in a statement. “We want to keep working remotely as we bargain an agreement to return to our classrooms safely. And we're one step closer to that goal today, because management has agreed to stay at the table rather than escalating conflict or locking out educators.”