Chicago teachers strike, cancelling classes for 300,000 students


Catherine Henderson/Daily Senior Staffer

Chicago Teachers Union president Jesse Sharkey speaks before a school board meeting in August. The union announced they will strike on Thursday.

Catherine Henderson, Print Managing Editor

With a looming strike, Chicago Public Schools cancelled class on Thursday, as thousands of teachers hit the picket lines.

The Chicago Teachers Union officially announced Wednesday that they would strike, leaving about 300,000 students out of school. The city and the union have been in negotiations for months after the union’s contract expired in July, but they failed to reach a deal in time for the strike scheduled for Oct. 17.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who took office in May, has met the union’s demands for pay, but class sizes, more time to prepare lessons and student supports such as social workers remain sticking points in negotiations.

“We will remain at the table, and we hope CTU will as well,” Lightfoot said at a press conference Wednesday. “I hope this work stoppage will end soon.”

Union president Jesse Sharkey said at a press conference that union members are hoping for a short strike, but they are still intent on more support staff for students. The city and CTU will return to negotiations on Thursday, he said.

“We intend to be on strike until someone comes in good faith and we can earnestly say that looks like a solution to us,” Sharkey said.

This will be the first time the CTU goes on strike since 2012, when teachers walked out for seven days. Last year, a wave of strikes began in West Virginia and spread to large districts like Los Angeles.

The union representing school support staff such as special education classroom assistants and custodial workers also voted to strike. However, CPS school buildings will remain open during the strike to provide meals and childcare for parents and families.

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