Chicago Teachers Strike: Mayor Lori Lightfoot: ‘Crystal clear’ CTU will go on strike, no CPS classes Thursday

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(ABC7 News)

ABC7 News

Mayor Lori Lightfoot says it is “crystal clear” that the Chicago Teachers Union will go on strike Thursday and that there will be no class for Chicago Public Schools students.

“They have been very clear that they are going to recommend to their House of Delegates that the strike that was planned for tomorrow proceed,” Mayor Lightfoot said at a news conference Wednesday morning.

Lightfoot said they are continuing to negotiate with the Chicago Teachers Union.

“We are proud of the progress we have made at the negotiating table and we will continue to negotiate every day, including today, until we have a contract,” Lightfoot said. “Our commitment is to do everything we can to keep this work stoppage as short as possible and ensure our students are back in school as soon as possible.”

CPS CEO Janice Jackson said all classes and afterschool activities will be canceled for Thursday assuming that CTU’s House of Delegates will vote to move forward to go on strike.

“We are going to ensure that all of our school buildings are open so that families have a safe place for students to spend the day and also ensure that they have access to meals throughout the day,” Jackson said.

Regular transportation will not be provided for students, Jackson said. Students will be able to attend any school that serves their grade level and are encouraged to attend their regular school.

The union’s bargaining team emerged from talks Wednesday saying it will recommend to the union’s voting delegates a strike Thursday by 24,000 teachers barring a breakthrough in talks.

“The only way that we have to make important long term changes in the schools is to do a short-term strike that is going to cause some difficulty and pain. And I don’t want to sugar coat that to parents,” said Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey.

“We are proud of the progress we have made at the negotiating table and we will continue to negotiate every day, including today, until we have a contract. Our commitment is to do everything we can to keep this work stoppage as short as possible and ensure our students are back in school as soon as possible.”

He said that while it is clear the union has been heard by the city in a number of areas, they have not seen the substantive changes to the contract they need to postpone a strike.

The union says there’s been some progress, although not enough, on issues of class size and staffing. Mayor Lightfoot acknowledges the two sides aren’t close.

“I have offered to go to the bargaining table multiple times, and I would be there, as would Dr. Jackson, if we thought that we were close and we needed some extra push. We’re not there yet,” Lightfoot said

CPS warned parents by voicemail that classes will be canceled if the union goes on strike Thursday.

“We will, however, keep our buildings open so that students have a safe place to stay during the day, and we will provide meals throughout the day, serving breakfast, lunch, and supper for all our students,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson.

A meeting of CTU’s House of Delegates is scheduled to meet at 4:45 p.m. and a strike could be authorized at that gathering. The sticking points for teachers remain limits on class sizes and support staffing, specifically more nurses, librarians and social workers. The union wants their demands to be addressed in writing.

The strike threat is also a big concern for student-athletes because it would force practices and games to be canceled. Several CPS schools moved up their football games before the possible walkout.

SEIU Local 73… which represents CPS support staff and Chicago Park District employees, is pushing for better wages and health benefits. Park District workers said they would walk out Thursday if they didn’t come to an agreement overnight.

School support staff will decide on a strike Wednesday when they return to the bargaining table.

This article originally appeared on ABC7 News.

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