One union reached a deal, while another is still negotiating for one.
Meanwhile, thousands of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students are still not in class.
Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73, including CPS support staff, reached a tentative deal on a new contract with the city on Oct. 27.
The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), however, had not reached a deal as of Oct. 28, and the strike that began on Oct. 17 continued.
According to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the deal with SEIU Local 73 includes a minimum 16-percent raise over five years for all employees and additional pay increases for special-education classroom assistants, bus aides and custodians. There are no changes to the health insurance plan for five years, including no increase in co-payments, deductibles, plan choices or out-of-pocket costs, with “only modest” increases in employee contributions.
She also said employees will be able to carry-over up to 40 days of unused sick leave for future absences.
In a prepared statement, Lightfoot called the agreement “a strong, fair deal.”
In an online statement on Oct. 27, SEIU Local 73 President Dian Palmer said she is content with the deal but still supports CTU members during their strike.
SEIU Local 73 includes CPS classroom assistants, custodians and security officers.
“This is a victory for working people in Chicago and shows what is possible when we unite and take action,” Palmer said. “The lowest paid support workers who are the backbone of our schools are going to see raises that mean their families won’t have to struggle living in an expensive city where costs keep going up. We will be on picket lines in solidarity with CTU [on Oct. 28].”
The CTU and the city have disagreed on the issue of school resources.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city presented the “most generous offer in CPS history” to the CTU, including raises for teachers and staff, while addressing class size and support staffing.
CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said the stipulation on class size would impact only one-third of the city, and while every school would have a full-time social worker and nurse, most schools still won’t have librarians.
Picketers demonstrated outside local CPS schools on Oct. 28. They have lined major corridors throughout the city during the work stoppage, and thousands of supporters protested downtown on Oct. 23, the same day Lightfoot announced the 2020 city budget.
At 99th Street and Western Avenue on Oct. 22, 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea delivered refreshments to picketers. He said he “wholeheartedly” supports teachers and the work they do every day.
“I’m hopeful they can come to an agreement,” O’Shea said. “We certainly know that teachers need to be provided resources in the classroom. I think everyone would agree that we need more nurses and more counselors, while being cognizant that this is a very expensive problem that we have. I’m just hopeful that we can come to an amicable agreement and get our kids back in school.”
The strike has kept students out of class and ineligible to participate in after-school activities such as sports.
Dozens of CPS sports teams were forced to forfeit Illinois High School Association (IHSA) postseason tournaments, and many student-athletes protested at Lightfoot’s office.
The Jones College Prep cross-country teams filed a lawsuit seeking to participate in the postseason, but a judge ruled that, while “it is not fair, and it is wrong” that seniors won’t be allowed to compete, issuing a restraining order that would permit them to play would force schools to be open “without adequate staff on hand.”
The Simeon High School football team had better luck.
The Wolverines hadn’t played the required eight games to be eligible for the state playoffs, but the IHSA approved the team’s appeal to participate because it had won six games. Any team that wins six games automatically makes the playoffs.
Simeon and other qualifying CPS teams were placed in the playoffs, but that was no guarantee they will play. The IHSA requires football teams that haven’t practiced in seven days to hold three days of
practices before competing.
Football teams will begin playoff games on Friday, Nov. 1, and Saturday, Nov. 2, so school must be back in session by Tuesday, Oct. 29, to play on Nov. 1, or Wednesday, Oct. 30, to play on Nov. 2.
Locally, Morgan Park High School and the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (CHSAS) are both slotted into the playoffs and scheduled to play on Nov. 2—Morgan Park in East St. Louis and CHSAS in Kewanee.
If CPS classes are not in session, those teams will forfeit.
Strikes updates will be published as they become available.