On September 26, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) voted to go ahead with a strike, demanding fair contacts, wage hikes and more support staff. An overwhelming 94% of the workers supported the strike. The support of a minimum of 75% of union members was required for the strike to take place.
The school district’s latest offer of a total raise of 16% over a five-year period was rejected by the CTU, which has demanded a 15% raise over a three-year contract, along with a fix to the shortage of counselors and special education teachers. According to reports, the earliest possible walkout date could be October 7.
CTU president Jesse Sharkey said that the strike vote is “a clear signal that we need the mayor and the Board of Education to address critical needs in our schools.”
“This is our livelihood at stake. We all very much want what’s best for the future of the Chicago public school system,” he further added.
On September 24, US Senator Bernie Sanders and actor John Cusack attended a rally and a subsequent gathering at the CTU headquarters, in solidarity with the teacher’s strike. At the rally, Sanders said that worker militancy was the key to fight corporate elites.
In addition to the teachers, 7,000 support staff in education-related positions, such as custodians, special education assistants and security guards, affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have also opted to join the strike to demand a higher pay, increased staffing and an end to the privatization deals that have been purging those in their ranks.