October 17, 2019

Experts from the Illinois Policy Institute available to discuss negative academic and economic effects of Chicago Teachers Union strike

CHICAGO (Oct. 17, 2019) – The Chicago Teachers Union walked out today for its third strike in seven years, a political move ultimately harming students and taxpayers.

Conceding to the union’s full demands would stick Chicagoans with a hefty price tag: the typical Chicago homeowner could see their property tax bill rise by at least $235 next year, if CTU’s demands were funded completely by property taxes. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s offer would only cost the typical taxpayer $13 on their property tax bill.

Lightfoot’s offer would still increase the average teacher salary from $79,000 to almost $100,000 over five years, including annual step increases. Chicago teachers currently garner higher wages than both the average private sector worker in Chicago and teacher peers among the nation’s largest cities and school districts.

Illinois Policy Institute experts are available in Chicago and Springfield to discuss the harmful effects of CTU’s demands and its decision to strike.


Adam Schuster, director of budget and tax research
Eric Kohn, director of community relations

Springfield and central Illinois
Mailee Smith, director of labor policy and staff attorney


  • Union demands would cost Chicago taxpayers more than $1.1 billion over three years, compared with $216 million for Lightfoot’s proposal.
  • Chicago teachers’ pay and benefits have outpaced the pay of taxpayers who fund them. Since 2009, the median Chicago teacher salary has grown 75% faster than the median salary for all Chicago workers.
  • Nearly 6 in 10 Chicago residents make less than the CTU median salary of $75,000 per year, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Property tax collections for Chicago Public Schools grew nearly twice as fast as the typical Chicago household income since 2009. Meanwhile, CPS debt grew more than six times faster than household income.
  • CPS already underperforms state academic achievement benchmarks in terms of graduation rates and SAT scores. Research shows strikes permanently harm student test scores and achievement. Given 90% of CPS students in 2018 were minority and 83% were classified as low-income, this means a strike will disproportionately harm those most in need.
  • Chicago has the most lenient strike provisions of any major U.S. city. Teacher strikes are illegal in eight of the nation’s top 10 largest school districts. CTU is the outlier, with state law sanctioning teacher strikes.
  • Recommendation: Lightfoot must hold the line in her negotiations with CTU on behalf of Chicago students and families.

For bookings or interviews, contact media@illinoispolicy.org or (312) 607-4977.