The Chicago Teachers Union will ask its governing body on Wednesday to consider a one-day teachers strike on May Day to bring attention to the “acute crisis” facing the Chicago Public Schools budget, a union leader said.
“We’re opening a discussion between now and our April meeting to discuss what actions we want to take to relate to May 1, which is going to be a day of mass demonstrations, traditionally a day of labor rights a day of immigrant rights,” CTU Vice-President Jesse Sharkey said.
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Sharkey said the union would ask its House of Delegates to approve entering into a month-long discussion period about a one-day walkout before an April 5 vote on whether or not to set a strike date.
Amid ongoing budget woes, CPS has ordered cuts the district says are necessary because of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of legislation that would have provided $215 million in state aid.
In addition to four furlough days and frozen school budgets, CPS has warned the school year could end nearly three weeks early and summer school could be cut if the district doesn’t see action in Springfield or win a preliminary ruling in its ongoing legal challenge to the state’s education funding system.
“The best thing you can do in the face of starvation of the schools is take your case to the public,” Sharkey said on Wednesday.
Teachers “are looking at 19 days of missing school, the way it stands right now. Our membership and frankly parents in the community have to decide whether we’re going to meet that by cowering in our homes under the covers, or whether we’re going to go out and do something about it.”
“At some point, there’s a limit to what the Board of Education can do with a hammer against its own teachers,” Sharkey said.
CTU staged a one-day walkout last April amid stalemated contract talks that prompted a legal challenge from CPS. Sharkey on Wednesday said he couldn’t yet explain the legal footing the union would rely on if used the same tactic in May.
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