Cook County College Teachers Union sets strike date before October’s end

Cook County College Teachers Union sets strike date before October’s end

Cook County College Teachers Union leaders said they will announce a strike date to members Oct. 24 ahead of planned informational pickets at city colleges and a strike rally set for Oct. 27. The work stoppage would keep 77,000 students out of classes.

The Cook County College Teachers Union will announce a strike date to members the night of Oct. 24 after authorizing faculty and staff to walk out by month’s end if negotiations with the City Colleges of Chicago continue to stall.

The strike authorized by 92% of CCCTU members Oct. 6 would shut down Chicago’s seven community colleges and satellite sites to secure contract concessions for greater housing security and child care options for students, in addition to reducing class sizes and increasing staff salaries.

Cook County College Teachers Union President Tony Johnston said the authorization will not guarantee a strike, but will empower the union to call for one if deemed necessary.

The pending union work stoppage would prevent roughly 77,000 students in the Colleges of Chicago network from attending classes until a settlement is reached.

“We don’t want to strike, but our members have made it clear that they will take the steps necessary to ensure our community colleges continue to offer a quality education to the students of Chicago,” Johnston said.

The union president hinted negotiations on some issues, including annual salary increases, are heading “in the right direction.” However, contentions over updating contract language and changing the colleges’ telework and formal complaint policies remain.

Johnston said union members are planning to host informational pickets at the colleges Oct. 26 to discuss their negotiating terms ahead of a strike rally set for Oct. 27.

Alongside pay raises for faculty and professional staff to offset inflation and enhance academic support in classrooms and labs, Johnston said members want to update their contract language to fund a new initiative: “City Colleges for the Common Good.”

The taxpayer-funded program would subsidize child care, housing costs and expanded “wraparound” support services for students. The Chicago Teachers Union made similar demands for more affordable housing during a strike in October 2019 that forced Chicago Public Schools to close for 11 days. CTU dropped the housing demand when wage concessions were made.

Johnston said union leadership submitted an intent-to-strike notice to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board and city college representatives in early October. While mediation with negotiators representing union faculty failed, a separate session with the professional staff is set for Oct. 24.

Government unions are currently pushing Amendment 1, a proposal at the top of the Nov. 8 ballot that would expand negotiations far beyond traditional wage and benefit issues. If passed, Amendment 1 would let them negotiate over a nearly endless array of subjects, including making demands about housing and child care, with taxpayers facing the mandate to fund those expanded demands.

Property taxes are on pace to rise by $2,149 for the typical homeowner during the next four years. But that could increase significantly under the broad powers granted by Amendment 1.

The Chicago Teachers Union has advocated for defunding the police and banks as part of a social agenda it pledged to spread to other government unions, along with its militant tactics. Now the Cook County College Teachers Union appears to be following that playbook.

Amendment 1 would promise higher property taxes as it empowers government unions and prohibits state lawmakers from reining in excesses. It is essentially taxation without representation, as union bosses dictate new taxpayer-funded housing and child care services without the deliberation of elected representatives.

There’s a reason no other state has granted so much power to its government unions.

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