Bargaining Underway as CPS, CTU Work Toward New Teachers Contract

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

Bargaining is underway between the Chicago Teachers Union and the city of Chicago over a new contract, two months before the existing deal is set to expire.

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Officials from the union and Chicago Public Schools began talks this week as the sides work to secure the first new teachers contract since former CTU organizer and educator Brandon Johnson was elected mayor.

CTU President Stacy Davis Gates said the sides have begun discussing the ground rules for the bargaining process and she expects this week’s sessions will act as a “pace-setter” for the way negotiations will continue.

Union leaders have also pushed for open bargaining, with negotiations livestreamed to the public, and stakeholders, students and families allowed in the room as talks take place. Davis Gates said Monday CPS has not yet agreed to that.

“We believe that showing our work in this contract negotiation is going to be a benefit for the Chicago Public Schools,” Davis Gates said Monday.

The union’s contract demands include staffing improvements, housing assistance, expanded dual language programs, and sustainable community schools. CTU officials are also demanding a 9% annual pay increase.

CTU members said a focus of Tuesday’s bargaining session was the necessity for more robust arts programs and a librarian in every school building.

Nora Wiltse, a librarian at King College Prep, said Tuesday that 90% of the students that go there never had a librarian at their previous schools.

“This should not just be for some students in some schools,” she said, “but really it’s an equity issue and we want librarians in all schools for all students.”

CTU leaders have expressed hope for a “new chapter” in negotiations.

Thad Goodchild, CTU’s deputy general counsel, acknowledged that bargaining between CPS and the union in previous years has been characterized by “ideological fighting” from the outset.

He said this time, he wants the sides to begin their discussions by focusing on areas where they are in agreement and solving the problems that they both agree exist.

“CPS is used to bargaining being a certain sort of way, too,” Goodchild said Monday. “We’re committed to that changing, we’re gonna work at it, but it’s going to take some time to bring folks who are used to doing things a certain way along.”

The CTU spent heavily to support Johnson’s successful mayoral run last year.

Davis Gates is set to appear alongside Johnson and CPS leaders including CEO Pedro Martinez during a celebration of National Board certified teachers Tuesday evening at the union’s headquarters.

The union’s existing contract expires June 30.

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson[email protected] | (773) 509-5431

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