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17 Oct 2019 at 8:02 pm
Chicago Teachers Union members speak during a press conference at the union’s headquarters, Thursday afternoon, Oct. 3, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times Bargaining was positive, both sides said, and will continue into the evening. On Thursday morning, Chicago’s powerful, 25,000-strong teachers union walked off the job. That means no classes for 300,000 students for as many days as it takes to reach a contract agreement with the teachers and other support staff. Based on the latest developments, here’s our take on how things look Thursday regarding the Chicago Teachers Union strike. First bargaining session of the day wraps up Talks resumed Thursday between the city and the teachers union at Malcolm X College on the Near West Side. The neutral site was a departure from the past few weeks when meetings alternated between CPS and CTU turf. The bargaining session went on longer than expected and wrapped up around 1 p.m., just in time for CTU leaders to make it downtown for the union’s rally in front of CPS headquarters. After negotiations went on break, union president Jesse Sharkey stopped to speak to reporters. He said talks were positive and the school district made a written proposal on class size that came close to the framework the union discussed over the weekend. Still, Sharkey said it was “very unlikely” the two sides would agree on all issues and reach a deal by the end of the day. The bargaining teams plan to reconvene at the table later in the afternoon after the union’s rally and march, but they might not go too late because Sharkey is set to appear on the Chicago Tonight news talk show in the evening. School likely canceled Friday, too Though there was no official word yet, all CPS classes are expected to be called off for Friday. A district spokesman said that, as of Thursday afternoon, there would be no school unless something changes in bargaining. “Until we get notification from the CTU that they’re intending to come back to the classroom, school is canceled for the duration,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot told reporters Thursday morning. CPS plans to update parents later Thursday as soon when a final decision is made. Thursday classes canceled Picketing outside schools began early Thursday morning at 6:30 a.m. Thousands of teachers marched and chanted outside their schools across the city, and union leaders Jesse Sharkey and Stacy Davis Gates joined a couple spots. With no agreement in sight, Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson were not yet expected to join negotiations Thursday. Instead, the duo made a couple morning stops at community centers to visit kids who were there for the day, and the mayor read a group of kids a children’s book. Wednesday morning, Lightfoot and Jackson took the unusual step of preemptively canceling classes Thursday morning for all CPS students. They acted in response to CTU President Jesse Sharkey’s announcement Tuesday night that he’d urge the union’s delegates to authorize a strike Thursday because the two sides were so far apart in contract talks. CPS confirmed the cancellation late Wednesday afternoon, emailing parents and sending out robocalls, as they had done Tuesday, when Jackson warned parents of a possible work stoppage. Jackson also announced free CTA rides for students until classes resume. CPS plans to keep school buildings open, staffing them with non-union employees such as principals and other administrators but without teachers and most other support staff, who are members of SEIU Local 73. Jackson said contract nurses will be made available at schools for children who need them. Libraries and some after-school programs can help with kids, too, and Chicago’s parks are an option now that their staffers reached a deal Wednesday on a contract with the city. At City Hall, Lightfoot told reporters she thinks the concessions CPS made should have been enough to avert a strike. The mayor said she has offered a 16% pay raise and worked to meet the union’s key concerns, even agreeing, after months of holding out, to put in writing the union’s demands over class size and staffing of nurses, librarians and social workers. Each side accused the other Wednesday of “moving the goal post” on getting a contract deal done — a change in tone from Tuesday, when the accusation was of “stalling.” Union vote Wednesday night The city and teachers union bargained for only a few hours Wednesday, then broke for the day. After school let out Wednesday, the CTU’s bargaining team convened the union’s house of delegates — the elected body of hundreds of school-level representatives, who are authorized to approve or reject any proposed contract. Earlier in the week, it appeared the CTU’s leaders set the delegates meeting to ratify a potential deal as late as possible. But the delegates instead blessed the walkout with an overwhelming vote. Then they carried strike signs out of CTU headquarters to carry on picket lines outside their schools.
17 Oct 2019 at 7:36 pm
The Chicago Teachers Union marches outside CPS headquarters. | Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times The Chicago Teachers Union is on strike Thursday after failing to reach a deal with Chicago Public Schools and Mayor Lori Lightfoot by last night’s deadline. 2:36 p.m. “It’s a piece of history and I’m glad I’m here to see it.” “I’m pro-union so I understand what they’re about and what they’re doing,” said a 52-year-old Park Ridge resident who works in the Loop keeping the printers working for a large company. She asked her name not be used. “I wish there was more visibility about what the exact issues are and what the negotiations are like,” she said. “It’s definitely an amazing show of force,” she said. “It’s also slightly worrisome because all it takes is one bad apple or small event and this could be a mob.” “But it’s a piece of history and I’m glad I’m here to see it.” The roadway on Madison is completely packed for one block from Dearborn to State with CTU members wearing red. — Mitch Dudek 2:08 p.m. Scenes from the picket line in Thursday’s CTU strike Waves of red and picket signs were hard to avoid early Thursday across Chicago as the teachers union staged its first major walkout since 2012 between 6:30 and 10:30 a.m. Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times Check out some of the best photos from across the city of Thursday’s strike here. 1:41 p.m. Head of teachers union says deal ‘very unlikely’ today The president of the Chicago Teachers Union says it’s “very unlikely” a deal will be reached today. While Jesse Sharkey said talks have been positive at a bargaining session between the city and union at Malcolm X College on the Near West Side, it was unlikely a deal would be reached tonight. That means school would likely not be in session Friday, but no official decision has been announced on whether classes will be canceled. Sharkey said the district presented a written proposal on the union’s class-size demands. The bargaining session wrapped up around 1 p.m., just in time for CTU leaders to make it downtown for the union’s rally in front of CPS headquarters. The two sides planned to reconvene at the table later in the afternoon after the 1:30 p.m. rally. SEIU Local 73 are set to continue to strike Friday. — Nader Issa Nader Issa and Lauren Fitzpatrick have live updates here on where things stand in the contract negotiations. 1:07 p.m. Teachers gather outside CPS headquarters Teachers have started gathering outside CPS headquarters for a massive rally and march this afternoon. The event is expected to draw thousands, including some elected officials who have supported the CTU. Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times Teachers gather outside CPS headquarters.— Ashlee Rezin & Nader Issa 12:56 p.m. Kids say Salvation Army contingency site ‘feels a lot like school’ About two dozen Chicago Public School students had lunch at the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Center Thursday afternoon. Students forced to miss class because of the strike can arrive as early as 6 a.m. and stay as late as 6 p.m. every day the strike goes on. It costs $15 a day, but kids receive a hot lunch, take math, reading and art classes and have time to exercise. Manny Ramos/Sun-Times Kids get a hot lunch at the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Center, a contingency site.“It’s been fun because we did a lot of activities like bible study and exercising,” 11-year-old Ariyah Black said. “Even though we are not in school it feels a lot like school in the Kroc Center because we did mathematic activities.” Dina Rutledge, director of arts and education at the Kroc center, said the learning environment is inclusive to children with disabilities. Only 25 kids came in today, but she thinks more will arrive as the strike goes on. Capacity is 200 people. “Our programs are structured so its not a free for all kind of thing,” senior Kroc officer John Pook said. “We are going to be here for the kids as long as it takes for them to work it out.” — Manny Ramos 12:52 p.m. Check out the signs from the picket lines this morning A papier-mâché pencil with “put it in writing” written across it, a cardboard sign quoting Jay-Z’s “99 Problems,” and others in Spanish and Chinese — the languages many Chicago students speak — could be see on the picket line this morning. Here are some of the signs teachers toted while on strike: — Chicago Sun-Times Staff 12:21 p.m. Parents, students hope strike can be resolved soon Rene Alvarez remembers when his teachers went on strike as a kid in Mexico, so it’s hard for him to complain about Thursday’s schools shut down. “I was there, marching with them,” he said in Spanish. Alvarez’s daughter, Alexa, is a second-grader at Cooper Elementary in Pilsen. Instead of taking her to a drop-off center, Alvarez brought Alexa to the playground at Harrison Park. “I work the nightshift and I usually don’t get to spend time with her during the day like this,” he said. Carlos Ballesteros/Sun-Times Rene Alvarez pushes his daughter, Alexa, on a swing in Harrison Park.Alvarez tries to keep up with the news about the strike; he’s heard some teachers in the city have over 40 students in their classrooms, and sympathizes with some of their demands. “In Mexico, the most I remember we had in one classroom was 35. I can’t imagine 40,” he said. Still, Alvarez hopes the strike can be resolved soon. “I don’t want [Alexa] to miss any more days than she has to,” he said. Alexa feels the same way. “I like school,” she said. “I like math, I like my friends, I like playing with them in recess, I like all the activities we do. I hope we go back soon.” Carlos Ballesteros/Sun-Times Rene Alvarez plays with his daughter, Alexa, in Harrison Park.— Carlos Ballesteros 11:43 a.m. ‘This is bigger than just a strike’ Veteran teachers and aides had music and drums outside the Ray Graham Training Center, a special education high school at 23rd and Wabash for young adults with moderate to severe disabilities. They’d picketed and marched in 2012, the last time the CTU went on strike, but school clerk Catalona Cardena said that kids’ needs in CPS have grown since then. Special ed teachers Kimberly Reid — also the school’s delegate — and Abisola Bakare said the amount of paperwork and other administrative tasks they were responsible for have steadily gone up, leaving them less time to be with students. Part of that stems from the state, which took control over CPS’ special education department after kids were found to have been denied services. “This is bigger than just a strike,” Reid said. “We’re trying to change the schools, it’s not about just money and benefits.” — Lauren FitzPatrick 11:15 a.m. CTU leaders resume negotiations with city officials After picketing with teachers earlier in the morning, CTU leaders Jesse Sharkey and Stacy Davis Gates met up at Malcolm X College on the Near West Side to resume negotiations with city officials. Thursday’s bargaining session is the first at a neutral site after alternating between CPS and CTU turf up to this point. The two sides are only expected to meet for a couple hours at most before the union heads downtown for a massive rally and march outside CPS headquarters. The gathering is expected to draw thousands, including some elected officials who have supported the CTU. One of those officials, City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin, was spotted at a picket line with teachers Thursday morning after speaking at a CTU rally on Monday. — Nader Issa 10:57 a.m. ‘There has been nothing but high energy here’ Kenwood Academy High School ended the morning with songs and a man dancing on stilts as celebration broke out into the street. Manny Ramos/Chicago Sun-Times A man on stilts participates in the teachers strike at Kenwood Academy High School.Ruben Cortez, a high school science teacher in Washington Heights, said this is his third strike in 12 years as a CPS teacher. “There has been nothing but high energy here,” Cortez said. “Money is good but we are here for something more than that. We are here for the safety of our kids and as much as I would hope, my salary can’t do that.” Manny Ramos/Sun-Times Ruben Cortez, a high school science teacher in Washington Heights, said this is his third strike in 12 years as a CPS teacher. Cortez said his school doesn’t have a social worker and a nurse is only available once a week, though he’s not sure what day she works. Two of his students died last week, and others need longterm emotional support. “We had a crisis worker help talk with kids for only a week, but that isn’t going to help them a month from now when they have a breakdown,” Cortez said. “We need a dedicated nurse and social worker, that is something we just need.” While Cortez is willing to strike for as long as he needs to, he hopes it only lasts for a couple of days. — Manny Ramos 10:49 a.m. More social workers are needed in schools, dean says Efrain Gonzalez is the dean of students at Kelly High School. He took on the role nine years ago after spending 15 years as a bilingual teacher at the high school. Rick Majewski/For the Sun-Time Dean of Students at Kelly High School, Efrain Gonzalez, on the picket line.Gonzalez said being a dean opened his eyes to the struggles his students face outside the classroom. “Seven times out of 10 when I have a student in the office it’s because of some form of trauma, either at home or in the neighborhood,” he said. Gonzalez was out on the picket line Thursday to fight for more social workers at Kelly. “We only have two full time social workers,” he said. “How can we provide a comprehensive learning environment without addressing the most fundamental needs of our students?” — Carlos Ballesteros 10:26 a.m. ‘We’re not moving any further on money because we can’t’ After reading to students at the Lawndale Christian Health Center, Mayor Lori Lightfoot was asked whether she might have made a tactical mistake by sweetening her pay raise offer to the teachers union so early in the negotiations. Lightfoot initially offered the CTU 14% over five years, then upped the ante to match the 16% recommended by an independent fact finder. “We’re not moving any further on money because we can’t,” she said. “I’m hopeful that we’ll continue discussions and that this strike will be limited in duration. But from a financial standpoint, we always have to keep in mind the taxpayers.” The mayor noted that CPS is “just on the other side of a pretty significant crisis and we don’t have unlimited resources.” Lightfoot entered the center through a back door to avoid chanting protesters from SEIU Local 73. The union represents striking school support personnel. — Fran Spielman 10:12 a.m. More than a teachers strike Dozens of SEIU 73 members — all in purple — joined the red-clad teachers, hoping the public wouldn’t forget they too were fighting for better working conditions. Outside Christopher Elementary at 51st and Artesian — a majority special education school rumored to have one of the highest numbers of special education classroom assistants, or SECAs, in the city — Andre Henry lamented how aides like him are frequently pulled away from caring for kids to do other jobs. Lauren FitzPatrick SEIU 73 members — all in purple — join red-clad teachers in striking outside Christopher Elementary.He and his colleagues do a lot of the physical labor needed to change students. “SECAs are supposed to exclusively work with kids,” said Henry, currently a dedicated aide working with a single student. That’s the case at Christopher, but not throughout CPS. “I don’t think a lot of people understand what our job is,” he said. None of Christopher’s students had shown up as of midmorning, though its nursing staff had prepared all their paperwork for the administration in case anyone did, school nurse Karen Rose said. But only one nurse from a private outside agency was at the school to be with any of them, Rose said, adding, “I can’t even imagine.” Children with feeding tubes and catheters wouldn’t get their usual care at school, but still it’s a hardship for their families to keep them, fellow nurses Valeda Sharer and Francine Shelton said. “It’s going to be very hard for them. They have to work,” Shelton said. Administrators inside “can’t give the children the care they need.” “As long as the parents be for us, we’re not going to lose,” she said. — Lauren FitzPatrick 9:48 a.m. Mayor Lori Lightfoot visits students at YMCA contingency site CPS preemptively canceled classes Thursday when a strike seemed imminent, notifying parents of nearly 700 designated contingency sites available to host CPS kids. Thursday morning, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson visited students at one such site, the McCormick YMCA at 1834 Lawndale Ave. Striking Chicago Teachers Union members from McAuliffe Elementary School rallied on the corner nearby. Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times With the Chicago Teachers Union on strike and classes canceled, Mayor Lori Lightfoot visited Thursday with Chicago Public Schools students at the McCormick YMCA, 1834 Lawndale Ave.Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson visit Thursday with students at the McCormick YMCA, 1834 Lawndale Ave.Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times Striking Chicago Teachers Union members from McAuliffe Elementary School rally on the corner as Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson leaves the McCormick YMCA at 1834 Lawndale Ave., where she and Mayor Lori Lightfoot met with CPS students, Thursday morning, Oct. 17, 2019. — Ashlee Rezin-Garcia 9:36 a.m. CTU VP Stacy Davis Gates joins striking teachers Stacy Davis Gates, the newly elected vice president of the union, joined the picket line at National Teacher Academy to call on Mayor Lori Lightfoot to listen to what the teachers are asking for and demanded more equitable policies. “You have a lot of school communities here in Chicago concentrated on the South and West Side that has been disinvested in for years.” Davis Gates said. “What if we lowered class sizes and talked more about equity?” She pointed to the school rating system that negatively impacts communities of color and low income neighborhoods. John O’Neill/Sun-Times CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates at the picket line at National Teacher Academy Thursday, Oct. 17. John O’Neill/Sun-Times CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates poses with striking teachers at the picket line at National Teacher Academy Thursday, Oct. 17. — Manny Ramos 9:19 a.m. Some teachers predict a deal by Monday Plenty of teachers weren’t willing to predict Thursday how long they expect the strike to last. Pat Grabowski wasn’t among them. Grabowski, who teaches special education at Reinberg Elementary School on the Northwest Side, has been at CPS for 30 years. She said Mayor Lori Lightfoot, so early in her first term, has to “take care of it.” “Otherwise she won’t get re-elected, and I think she knows it,” Grabowski said. “She’ll have a deal by Monday.” Grabowski likes Lightfoot more than she liked former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, but: “She’s going against us, she doesn’t have our back. She keeps saying, ‘The taxpayers, the taxpayers.’ She needs to realize that teachers are taxpayers too.” 8:57 a.m. Shows of support at the picket line Supporters of the teachers strike are visiting picket lines across the city this morning. Kelly High School’s band students woke up early to support their teachers (and proceeded to wake up everyone in a five block radius) #CTUstrike pic.twitter.com/upsq1V0tVj— Carlos Ballesteros (@ballesteros_312) October 17, 2019 Kelly High School’s Youth Alive Bible Club visited their teachers at the school early Thursday — and they brought tamales. “Tamales are great strike food,” said senior Patricia Vazquez. “They’re warm and you can eat them standing up.” The Bible Club — which has been at the school for over 25 years — used its own funds to buy the tamales, said staff sponsor and teacher’s assistant Jose Perez. Carlos Ballesteros/Sun-Times Kelly High School’s Youth Alive Bible Club handed out tamales to striking teachers. “It was around $160, but it’s for a good cause,” Perez said. Vazquez said her high school doesn’t have a full-time nurse and also lacks enough social workers to help students in need. “Earlier this year there was a shooting across the street and we had a lockdown, but they didn’t have enough social workers for students to come talk about any anxiety or pain they were feeling,” she said. “It’s not fair. We deserve better.” Ten seconds doesn’t go by without a car honking down California Avenue and Archer Avenue in support of Kelly teachers gathered out front. — Carlos Ballesteros At Milton Brunson Specialty School at Central and Augusta, there are also frequent honks of support for the two - three dozen picketers from commuters driving by. One sympathizer in a black Dodge SUV just dropped off another two jugs of coffee and two dozen donuts at Brunson. — John O’Neill 8:48 a.m. Multilingual signs for multilingual students Puliam Law is an art teacher at Kelly High School in Brighton Park. She said her students deserve a more robust education with the proper resources to succeed. “We don’t have enough staff or classroom materials,” she said. “It’s getting better, but we can still fight for more.” Around 15% of Kelly’s student body identifies as Asian, most of whom are Chinese. Law said her sign reads, “CPS on strike for better schools and a fair contract.” Carlos Ballesteros/Chicago Sun-Times Puliam Law, an art teacher at Kelly High School in Brighton Park, on the picket line Thursday, Oct. 17 during the Chicago teacher strike.8:17 a.m. ‘Sometimes we’ve got to teach the mayor’ From Sun-Times reporter Stefano Esposito: Jenny Trejo, a visual arts teacher, gets ready for her first day on the picket lines outside Taft High School on the Northwest Side. pic.twitter.com/6DRP0cMnXw— stefano esposito (@slesposito) October 17, 2019 Scott Plencner, a history teacher at Taft, says he wasn’t looking forward to going on strike, but “We’re teachers. Sometimes we’ve got to teach the mayor.”— stefano esposito (@slesposito) October 17, 2019 Amanda Nadig, a visual arts teacher at Taft — one of about 30 teachers and support staff on the picket lines here. pic.twitter.com/iksEL3KWgj— stefano esposito (@slesposito) October 17, 2019 To those who think the strike is CTU showing a new mayor who’s in charge, Plencner says: “I’m not flexing my muscles. I voted for this mayor. I thought there would be changes. ... So far nothing.”— stefano esposito (@slesposito) October 17, 2019 8:14 a.m. Kids at the picket line While CPS provided alternative options for students to spend the day while classes were canceled Thursday, Lane Tech AP psychology teacher David Doll brought his daughter, Penny, 4, to the picket line. “Explaining the strike to her was a little difficult. I told her ‘everyone has piggy banks. We need more money for our piggy bank and our school needs more money for its piggy bank.’ And she was cute. She went and got her piggy bank and brought it to me.” Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times Lane Tech AP psychology teacher David Doll and his daughter, Penny, at the picket line at Lane Tech on Thursday, Oct. 17, as teachers trike during contract negotiations. Jude Greiner, 18, a Lane Tech senior, walked the picket line handing out coffee, water, donuts, granola bars and crackers. “My teachers are striking so everyone has equal resources. I hope the city understands. My school is very lucky, but every school needs a nurse and proper resources for their children.” Mitch Dudek/Chicago Sun-Times Jude Greiner, 18, a Lane Tech senior. Grenier said her mom is in a union, and her mom supports her being out this morning. Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times Strike day care: Lane Tech English teacher Betsy Serilla with her niece and son, both CPS students. — Mitch Dudek Striking Taft clerk Bianca Colon and her children encouraging commuters on the interstate below to make some noise. pic.twitter.com/hpx7kUYdzF— stefano esposito (@slesposito) October 17, 2019 8:01 a.m. A nurse strikes at Cather Elementary Dujanne Evans, a sixth grade teacher at Cather Elementary, 2908 W. Washington, said she is striking for the needs of nurses and social workers in her schools. “I have to stock up on medical supplies because we don’t have a nurse ever day,” Evans said. “I have to pay for band-aids and peroxide so of they cut themselves, but a nurse is the one who is properly trained to do that.” Manny Ramos/Sun-Times Dujanne Evans, a sixth grade teacher at Cather Elementary, on the picket line outside her school on Thursday, Oct. 17. “I have to listen when some of my students come to me with the problems they’re facing at home, but there should be a social worker ready to intervene and we simply don’t have that.” Evans said though the strike will make it difficult for her and her family with no income, she said its absolutely necessary. “We are truly here for the kids,” Evans said. — Manny Ramos 7:49 a.m. Spirits are high at Lane Tech Lane has 265 teachers and staff in the CTU, and about 40 more security and special ed classroom assistants in the SEIU who are also on strike. There could be 300 people out front of Lane Tech by the time picketers call it quits for the day at 10:30 a.m. Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times Coffee and snacks for striking teachers at Lane Tech. Spirits were high at the Roscoe Village high school Thursday morning. Lane Tech music teachers Javier Payano and Miles Comiskey jammed on guitar and drums just after 7 a.m. as teachers chanted and picketed. — Mitch Dudek 7:18 a.m. CTU President Jesse Sharkey speaks from the picket line Teachers and support staff rallied around CTU President Jesse Sharkey outside Peirce Elementary School in Andersonville as he took the dais to voice the union’s demands. Sharkey spoke about the union’s request for more social workers and the need for a better deal for the paraprofessionals working at schools across the city. “Our demands are significant, and we have real demands, but that’s because the needs are significant,” Sharkey said. “We ask for a lot because we give a lot.” “All of our schools here deal with real traumas, and we need supports,” Sharkey said. — Samuel Kelly 7:11 a.m. ‘We wanted to give the kids... some sleep’ There are a two dozen teachers spread out across Sawyer Elementary’s campus in Gage Park. But they’re not chanting yet. “We wanted to give the kids and their parents some time to sleep,” said Carmen Vazquez, a seventh-eighth grade special education teacher. Sawyer is in the middle of one of Chicago’s largest immigrant communities. It has one of the largest student bodies across the district but lacks enough social workers. “In the past we’ve had students hit by a drunk driver or be deported and their classmates weren’t able to see a social worker,” said Paula Sontag, a second grade teacher at Sawyer. Sontag said she’s on the picket line because “students need to be treated holistically, and we’re fighting for the resources other kids in the city and in other districts get to enjoy.” — Carlos Ballesteros 6:54 a.m. Teachers arrive at their schools bearing signs and wearing CTU red Amid chants of “Whose schools? Our schools” and “Lori Lightfoot, get on the right foot,” educators have begun to picket outside the schools where they teach. About 50 striking teachers gathered at the major intersection of Addison and Western outside Lane Tech College Prep, beneath the school’s electronic sign. Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times CPS teacher Zeljka Girardi. Zeljka Girardi, who teaches German, held a picket sign reading “On Strike for a Fair Contract.” Cars honked frequently in support of teachers as they passed. “We have to do what we have to do. Our school is awesome. Our principal is awesome. I have no issue with the administration of Lane Tech. But we still need a fair contract.” — Mitch Dudek 6:32 a.m. Live updates on CPS-CTU contract negotiations Bargaining between the teachers union and the school district is set to resume today at a neutral location, unlike previous sessions that alternated between CPS and CTU turf. Officials from CPS and CTU, mostly educators at some point of their careers, will return to the bargaining table to continue talks that began in January. With no agreement in sight, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson are not yet expected to join them. Wednesday morning, Lightfoot and Jackson took the unusual step of preemptively canceling classes Thursday morning for all CPS students. At 1:30 p.m., the CTU plans to rally outside CPS headquarters at 42 W. Madison. Follow our coverage here for the latest on contract negotiations. 6:02 a.m. Contingency plans for CPS students As teachers across Chicago prepare to head to the picket line instead of their classrooms, CPS school buildings will be opening on time to house displaced students, including those who don’t regularly attend, but may live nearby. Principals and non-union staff will be on site providing breakfast and lunch to students and coordinating “engaging activities” to occupy the time. In addition to CPS buildings, all Chicago Public Libraries will accept students, as will 18 parks, designated “Safe Haven” sites, and other community partner sites. Click here to search the full list of contingency sites using the site locator map. 4:30 a.m. Chicago Teachers Union on strike The Chicago Teachers Union is on strike Thursday after failing to reach a deal with Chicago Public Schools and Mayor Lori Lightfoot by last night’s deadline. Teachers are expected to be picketing at their schools starting around 6:30 a.m. today. Lightfoot and schools chief Janice Jackson announced Wednesday that all Chicago Public Schools classes would be canceled ahead of the strike. CPS has established a contingency plan for parents outlining alternative options for students, which include libraries, parks, community centers, and other sites that are staffed to supervise children while schools are closed. CPS school buildings will be open at their usual times, and principals and non-union staff will be on site providing breakfast and lunch to students and coordinating “engaging activities” to occupy the time. Students can attend any CPS school that is appropriate for their age, even if it’s not their usual school. Follow the @suntimes on Twitter, as well as these Sun-Times reporters covering the strike Thursday, for live updates: @bylaurenfitz@NaderDIssa @_ManuelRamos_@ballesteros312@MitchDudek@slesposito@MHendricksonCST@TomSchuba — Chicago Sun-Times Staff Our goal at the Sun-Times is to empower you during big news events like the teachers strike. Support our coverage further by signing up for a digital subscription here.
17 Oct 2019 at 7:12 pm
Police in Joliet were investigating a homicide near the intersection of California Avenue and Rosalind Street on Oct. 17, 2019. | File photo Officers responded about 5:07 a.m. for a person lying on the ground near California Avenue and Rosalind Street and found the female. Police are investigating the death of female found with trauma Thursday morning in Joliet. It was the second homicide police responded to Thursday in the southwest suburb. Officers were called about 5:07 a.m. for a person lying on the ground near California Avenue and Rosalind Street, Joliet police said in a statement. They arrived and found the female, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Police offered few details, but said they were investigating the death as a homicide. She was found with trauma on her body, though it was unclear how or when she died. Police were working to identify the body. The Will County coroner’s office has not released details. Earlier in the morning, a man was shot to death in the 800 block of Cora Street, police said. Officers responded to a call of shots fired about 12:20 a.m. and found 24-year-old Dearis J. Evans, police and the coroner’s office said. Evans died of an apparent gunshot wound. Detectives were asking for surveillance video from the area between 11 p.m. Wednesday and 1 a.m. Thursday, police said. Investigators are focusing on the area east of Nicholson Street to Broadway Street and the area north of Ruby Street to Moran Street.
17 Oct 2019 at 7:05 pm
Striking teachers doing their thing to get attention on Thursday, October 17, outside Gray Elementary School on the Northwest Side. | Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times Adults, children and even a puppy named Lola took part in the city-wide demonstration, here are some of the best photos of Thursday’s strike: Waves of red and picket signs were hard to avoid early Thursday across Chicago as the teachers union staged its first major walkout since 2012 between 6:30 and 10:30 a.m. CTU educators, SEIU members and supporters throughout the city took to the picket line just before dawn as the two unions began their strikes. The teachers union walked off the job after failing to reach a deal with Chicago Public Schools and Mayor Lori Lightfoot by Wednesday night’s deadline. The events of the day was not limited to one age group — or even one species. Adults, children, a puppy named Lola, and even the odd dinosaur took part in the city-wide demonstration. Here are some of the best photos from across the city of Thursday’s strike: Colin Boyle for the Chicago Sun-Times Chicago Public Schools teachers picket early Thursday morning at Lane Tech High School on the first day of the teacher strike on October 17, 2019.Colin Boyle/For the Sun-Times Mohawk, a six-year-old dog, stands with her owner, special education teacher Jessica Sherwin, as Chicago Public Schools teachers picket early Thursday morning at Lane Tech High School on the first day of the teacher strike on Thursday October 17, 2019. Manny Ramos/Chicago Sun-Times A man on stilts participates in the teachers strike at Kenwood Academy High School.Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times Teachers on strike hold up sign saying “the schools we need, not LaSalle Street greed,” on Thursday, Oct. 17. Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times Teachers gather outside CPS headquarters for a march and rally. Rick Majewski/Chicago Sun-Times From left, Dance Teacher Allison Greene, Visual Arts teacher Lucila Saldana-Olazaba and Teacher’s Assistant Nacy Pailla outside Sawyer Elementary School Thursday morning on the first day of the Chicago teacher strike. Colin Boyle for the Sun-Times Jennifer Yen, special education teacher at Alexander Graham Bell School, joins the rally as Chicago Public Schools teachers picket early Thursday morning at Lane Tech High School on the first day of the teacher strike on October 17, 2019. Carlos Ballesteros/Chicago Sun-Times Puliam Law, an art teacher at Kelly High School in Brighton Park, on the picket line Thursday, Oct. 17 during the Chicago teacher strike.Carlos Ballesteros/Chicago Sun-Times Lola is also on the picket line during the Chicago teacher strike on Thursday, Oct. 17.Colin Boyle/For the Sun-Times Teachers perform music on Addison Street as Chicago Public Schools teachers picket early Thursday morning at Lane Tech High School on the first day of the teacher strike on Thursday October 17, 2019. Mitch Dudek/Chicago Sun-Times Jude Greiner, 18, a Lane Tech senior.Colin Boyle for the Sun-Times President of American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten speaks as Chicago Public Schools teachers picket early Thursday morning at Lane Tech High School on the first day of the teacher strike on October 17, 2019. Stefano Esposito/Chicago Sun-Times Striking teachers doing their thing to get attention on Thursday, October 17, outside Gray Elementary School on the Northwest Side.
17 Oct 2019 at 6:59 pm
Mayor Lori Lightfoot reads to students Thursday at the Lawndale Christian Health Center. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times A Chicago Teachers Union that was among Toni Preckwinkle’s strongest supporters followed through on its threat of a strike that seemed pre-ordained since the day Lori Lightfoot swept all 50 wards. On the first day of a teachers strike that could define her tenure, Mayor Lori Lightfoot entered a Lawndale community center through a back door to avoid chanting strikers and sought refuge in a classroom. As some of the young children fidgeted or yawned while others listened intently, the mayor read aloud a book she loved to read to her own daughter: “A Bad Case of the Stripes.” “So the moral of the story is, be true to yourself. Do what you want. Don’t worry about whether or not people like you,” the mayor told the kids. Lightfoot can only hope that the moral of David Shannon’s story about a girl who loves lima beans, but never eats them because of peer pressure applies to the crisis she now confronts. A Chicago Teachers Union that was among Toni Preckwinkle’s strongest supporters and campaign donors has followed through on its threat of a strike that has seemed pre-ordained since the day Lightfoot swept all the city’s 50 wards. Lightfoot said she “can’t speculate” on whether Preckwinkle would have faced a similar fate. But she all but acknowledged the CTU was bound and determined to hit the picket lines on her watch. “We could have had this deal at the end of August,” she said. “If you really want to avoid a strike, you … rYou stay at it night and day. You talk about the main issues. You actually give counter-proposals and not just reject what’s on the table. There’s a real back-and-forth.” Instead, “we saw a little bit of that in the waning days before the strike started. But it certainly wasn’t there early on,” Lightfoot added. “There’s a sense of urgency, certainly on our part. … But, it takes two to tango.” That “sense of urgency” was not evident on Day One of the strike. Sources said the two sides met for a few hours and broke for a CTU rally. The mayor’s frustrated forces were also told CTU President Jesse Sharkey had a dinner to attend and union officials had a conference this weekend. Lightfoot was asked if it was a tactical mistake to sweeten her pay raise offer — to 16 percent over five years — so early in the negotiations. “We’re not moving any further on money because we can’t. … CPS is just on the other side of a pretty significant crisis. And we don’t have unlimited resources,” she said. A City Hall source familiar with the negotiations questioned what the union stands to gain from a strike given Lightfoot’s steely resolve. “She’s not moving on money or the longer day. What else can she do — agree to codify the verbal promises she’s made on staffing? All they stand to gain is a piece of paper without any new concessions,” the source said. Still, for Lightfoot, the timing of the strike couldn’t be worse. On Wednesday, she will spell out what taxes she plans to raise and services she plans to cut to erase an $838 million shortfall. Her ability to avoid raising the property taxes that more than doubled under then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel depends on how her ambitious agenda fares in the Illinois General Assembly’s fall veto session. Lightfoot’s heavy-lift requests for a graduated real estate transfer tax and a casino gambling fix — either through city-state ownership of a Chicago casino or a revised tax structure —appear to face long odds. That’s particularly true after a blindsided Gov. J.B. Pritzker had to read about in the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s like the third or fourth time,” that’s happened, one insider said. Early on, Lightfoot floated a plan to have the state take over the city’s $30 billion pension liability; Pritzker predictably shot it down. The governor has since forged ahead with a consolidation plan for suburban police and fire pension funds, but not Chicago. On Thursday, Lightfoot was asked whether her political honeymoon is over. “I have personally gotten a lot of support from random people that I don’t know … via email. I’m getting text messages. … I’m hearing a lot from teachers and support staff that they understand that we respect them, that we put a good deal on the table, and that we should get a deal done. So I feel very good about where we are,” she said. “Of course, no one wants a strike. I’d be foolish to say it’s fine. We need to get this deal done.” The longer the strike, the more working parents will be inconvenienced. The more their children will suffer. And the more political blame will be directed at Lightfoot. The buck stops at her door. “I don’t see it that way and I don’t look at it that way,” she said. “This isn’t about politics for me.”