What to know: CTU rejects returning to the classroom today

January 27, 2021

Illinois Policy Institute experts available to comment on possible CTU strike


MEDIA CONTACT: Melanie Krakauer (312) 607-4977

What to know: CTU rejects returning to the classroom today 
Illinois Policy Institute experts available to comment on possible CTU strike

CHICAGO (Jan. 27, 2021) – Chicago Public Schools administrators are telling students to stay home today because the Chicago Teachers Union is pushing teachers to stay away from schools despite months of negotiations over COVID-19 safety protocols to allow in-person learning.

Instead of showing up to school, CTU members are being told by the union to continue remote teaching. That refusal could prompt CPS to lock members out of remote-teaching platforms, leading the union to call a fourth strike in nine years. This situation has never occurred before.

This comes as CPS and the CTU reportedly could not come to an agreement on major health and safety protocols for in-person instruction. The district claims more than 60 meetings with the union resolved key parts of the plan weeks ago.

Illinois Policy Institute experts are available to discuss what to watch regarding a potential CTU strike over COVID-19 today.

What to know about CTU and CPS’s situation:

CTU is asking members to refuse to go to work, and then strike

  • CTU’s House of Delegates approved a resolution on Jan. 20 that authorizes a strike if CPS locks teachers out of remote learning platforms if members refuse to work in person.
  • 71% of CTU members who voted approved the resolution.

A CTU ‘strike’ could be illegal

  • Under Illinois labor law, if CPS teachers and staff strike while a collective bargaining agreement is in place, it is considered an illegal strike.
  • House Bill 2275 currently awaits signature by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and could potentially allow expanded reasons for unions to call a strike.

The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board could be asked to weigh in on an unprecedented situation

  • If the board determines it’s an illegal strike, the district can discipline striking teachers. If CPS locks teachers out of remote learning platforms, the board could be asked to declare an illegal lock out.

Chicago already met the requirements health officials put in place for school reopening  

  • The Illinois Federation of Teachers, the state affiliate of CTU, has demanded for months that school districts continue remote learning for safety reasons. But CTU has neither international nor local health data supporting its stance.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated opening schools does not significantly increase community transmission, and a UNICEF study reports  “no consistent association between school reopening status and COVID-19 infection rates.”

Mailee Smith, director of labor policy at the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute, offered the following statement:

“After months of on-going discussion between CPS and the CTU on the best way to safely open school buildings, the union is encouraging teachers not to return to classrooms. With safety measures in place and leading health officials telling us we can safely transition back to in-person instruction, any further delays will only serve to hurt students and their education.

“If CTU convinces its members not to report to their school buildings, the district has an unfair choice to make. It can lock teachers out of their remote teaching platforms, but then the students can’t obtain schooling. If the district doesn’t lock them out, then the union wins its power play. The fact that the district even has to make that decision shows the union has too much power over the lives of children and their families.”

To read more about a possible CTU strike, visit illin.is/CTUcovid.

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