Chicago’s teachers union is upping the pressure on Mayor Lori Lightfoot, by releasing a minute-long video that features several educators from across the city explaining why they’re pushing so hard on contract negotiations.
In the second week since the contract between the union and the district expired, the union has increased the urgency of its demands to the new mayor. Last week, Lightfoot’s team made its offer on pay public and offered its first round of detailed proposals on topics such as grievances and prep time.
The deal includes a 14% raise over five years, but the union balked at the pay increase, saying it was closer to 11% once employee health insurance costs were factored in.
The union warned of a strike when school begins this fall if the city does not meet its demands. In 2012, when the last contract was negotiated, members had authorized a start-of-school strike by July.
Lightfoot has described her team’s first offer as “robust” and “fair.” City Hall did not provide a response to the video by publication time.
In the video, featured educators argue for more social workers and smaller class sizes.
“As a history teacher, there’s a long history of systemic issues in Chicago Public Schools,” said Alison Eichhorn, a teacher at Lindblom Math and Science Academy. The district needs to fix its mistakes, she said.
“And the only way you do that is if you fund public education,” added Leslie Plewa, a teacher at Taft High School.
In a statement accompanying the video, union President Jesse Sharkey said considering Lightfoot’s campaign promises to support schools, the union and the city should have signed a contract by now.
“Candidate Lightfoot vowed there will be no teacher strike on her watch,” Sharkey wrote. “Mayor Lightfoot has a month to make good on that and her campaign promises.”
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