Today, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) voted to end its strike. After seven long days of boisterous rallies and protests, the CTU agreed to the offer made by the city of Chicago through the leadership of Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
Naysayers condemned the strike from the onset as harmful for the district and harmful for kids, but a look at what teachers won shows that it actually did a lot for the schools. Here’s a list of just some of the highlights, drawn from a CTU draft of what its members agreed to:
- A REASONABLE SCHOOL LENGTH: Chicago originally proposed a 7 hour, 40 minute school day that threatened to overwork students and teachers (especially without proper compensation). CTU won a 7 hour day for elementary school and 7 hour, 15 minute day for high school
- FUNDING FOR A COMPREHENSIVE EDUCATION IN ARTS AND MUSIC: CPS originally had proposed no funding for additional staff. CTU won funding for over 600 new positions, mostly for arts, music, and physical education — important outlets for a comprehensive education.
- MAYORAL ACCOUNTABILITY: The original contract called for a length of five years, meaning that Mayor Rahm Emanuel would not be responsible for negotiating another one within his term. The new contract lasts for 3 years, meaning the next negotiation would be during the mayoral race and allow teachers and parents to hold the mayor accountable.
- KEEPING HEALTH CARE COSTS DOWN: The original contract would’ve had a nearly 40 percent increase on families and couples. Now, there will be a freeze on health care premiums and co-pays for all CTU members.
- FAIR EVALUATIONS: 70 percent of a teacher’s quality rating will be based on their practice rather than student test scores.
- A MORE FAIR PAY RAISE: Originally, CPS was only offering a 2 percent pay raise with no guaranteed raise for the following four years. Now, there will be a 3 percent pay raise and a 2 percent raise each of the next couple years.
- MORE MONEY FOR SUPPLIES; TEXTBOOKS ON DAY ONE: Originally CPS was only offering $100 for supplies per teacher. Now that will be raised to $250. Additionally, there will be guaranteed textbook distribution on the first day of classes, for the first time ever.
These are just a few of the concessions that CTU won. Read the full list here.
This was a hard-fought victory for PCCC and the labor movement at large. Let CTU’s example stand for all workers: when you’re being mistreated, if you fight back, you can win. PCCC is airing the following ad to show why unions fought this fight:
You can help air it in Chicago by clicking here.