On May Day, teachers at many charter schools in Chicago joined picket lines, demanding living wages, adequate student support, pension rights, as well as protection for immigrants and diverse learners. The protest was called by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), which represents more than 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools.
The CTU was joined by the City Colleges of Chicago clerks and technical workers of the American Federation of Teachers/Illinois Federation of Teachers Local 1708, who have been without a contract for almost three years. This is the third strike against charter operators this school year.
The teachers at charter institutions, including the Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy, the Instituto Justice Leadership Academy, the ChiArts, the Latino Youth High School and the Youth Connection Leadership Academy, also joined the strike.
It was reported that the striking teachers at the Chicago High School for the Arts and Youth Connection Leadership Academy later reached agreements with their respective managements and resumed work.
Carol R. Caref from the CTU told Peoples Dispatch, “On May Day, CTU members will strike another round of charter operators in Chicago, accelerating the struggle to prevent charter operators from profiting at the expense of students.”
“The recent surge in teachers’ strikes is driven by resistance to more than a decade of austerity and the dire consequences of the push to privatize public education. Educators and other school workers who are the backbone of school communities have seen classroom resources gutted and wages squeezed as edu-profiteers have made inroads into the public sector and governments have slashed spending on public education,” she added.
Over the past year, teachers in a number of US States have gone on strike, seeking better pay, more funds for education, and better amenities at schools. Earlier, teachers from Denver and Los Angeles won pay hikes after going on strike. Strikes also took place in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and Washington, among other States.