CTU has walked out on students three times in three school years. The outcome of its upcoming leadership election pits the status quo against potential change – and could alter the political trajectory of the nation’s most militant teachers union.
The Proviso teachers’ union declared the strike over compensation March 4, canceling classes for the district’s 4,200 students for 8 days so far. The local school board tried to call a time-out to get students back in class, but the union refused.
The Chicago Teachers Union has gone on strike five times and walked out on students at least three other times since it got the right to strike in 1984. Gaining greater power through Amendment 1 would embolden militant union tactics.
Illinois has seen 48 teacher strikes in 10 years. None of Illinois’ neighboring states let unions use students and their educations as bargaining chips.
Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey announced he’s returning to the classroom once his term expires in June. Sharkey has led CTU since 2014 through three work stoppages.
The Members First Caucus said the current Chicago Teachers Union leaders see “work stoppages and strikes as the first step, and not the last one.” They want less political activism and more focus on delivering for members and students.
Amendment 1 would give Illinois teachers a permanent right to strike, taking more class time away from teachers who believe their place is with their students instead of on the picket line. Voters will decide Nov. 8.
Parents of Chicago Public Schools students sued to end the “remote work action” by Chicago Teachers Union members that kept 340,000 students out of classrooms for five days. The walkout is over, but the lawsuit is continuing to prevent the next illegal strike.
Chicago schools closed Jan. 5 when the Chicago Teachers Union voted to keep members out of classrooms, trying to force an end to in-person learning over COVID-19 concerns.
No other state constitutions guarantee unmitigated powers to government unions, and 28 state constitutions don’t even find a need to mention labor.