Understanding the Chicago Teachers Union’s unprecedented contract demands

Understanding the Chicago Teachers Union’s unprecedented contract demands

The Chicago Teachers Union's lengthy list of demands includes base raises and experience compensation each year, housing help, climate justice, more compensation added to pension calculations and a pool of health care funds targeted to racial disparities. An analysis puts the price tag at least $10 billion.

The Chicago Teachers Union is doing its best to push through a new contract full of extreme demands that would cost taxpayers. Of the items that can be reasonably estimated – which is only a small, partial list – the costs total between $10.2 billion to $13.9 billion.

Demands include:

  • Minimum salary increases: 9% yearly cost-of-living adjustments estimated at $2.52 billion.
  • Step increases for experience: $817 million.
  • Enhanced stipends: 15% salary bump for National Board Certified Teachers, potentially $2 billion.
  • Additional personnel: Hiring 4,650 staff including teachers’ assistants and specialists, costing $1.7 billion.
  • Student benefits: Free CTA passes and reduced class sizes could cost over $643 million.
  • Housing initiatives: Demands include 10,000 new affordable housing units and extensive rental assistance, totaling up to $4.7 billion.
  • Health and wellness: Full funding for infertility and abortion care, weight-loss treatments including Ozempic, and other extensive health services.
  • Electric school buses: Transition to an electric fleet could reach $500 million.
  • Green initiatives: Proposals for carbon neutrality by 2035 with solar installations and green tech education programs.

If Chicago Public Schools gives in to the CTU’s demands, Chicagoans can expect to face skyrocketing property taxes, meaning more foreclosures for those who cannot afford them. If Johnson gives the union most of what it wants, Chicagoans should still brace for steeper costs of living as the city searches for new revenue streams to pay for it.

Nothing on the CTU’s wish list will address the dismal academic proficiency rates of CPS. Since 2012, spending has increased by 97%, but student proficiency in reading has declined by 63% and by 78% in math for grades three through eight. With the costs of the demands outlined above – which represents only a fraction of CTU’s latest demands – annual spending is set to triple compared to 2012 levels.

The CTU and its affiliates were the biggest backers of Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, who is meant to represent taxpayers in these negotiations. The mayor, a former CTU activist, should recuse himself from collective bargaining with his former employer, an arrangement that presents a clear conflict of interest.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!