Remember when union leaders predicted a “short-term” strike?
Some 300,000 Chicago students remained out of school, and their families continued to scramble, as Chicago’s teachers strike entered Day 11 Thursday. The territory was new: The union and city had arrived a deal, but the strike continued over a conflict about how teachers could make up missed days and recoup lost pay.
But things changed midday. Around 1:30 p.m., the city and teachers union announced a deal to end the strike. Classes will resume Friday and teachers and students will make up five of the missed days.
5 p.m. That’s a wrap
We’ll let American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten have the last word, but only because the national union just sent out a statement from her. “We have helped make Chicago’s public schools safe, welcoming sanctuaries of learning, and we have shown an entire nation that when we fight together, we win,” said Weingarten, who visited teachers in Chicago on the picket line multiple times.
4:40 p.m. Flying the W (and L)
Was the Chicago Teachers Union’s strike a success? It’s not that simple, but we ran down what happened to the five issues the union said had been the biggest sticking points. There are wins and losses to go around.
3 p.m. Happy Halloween
A one-day week after two weeks off and a late night filled with candy — should be a smooth landing in schools Friday.
The strike is OVER! And we have a massive snow storm for Halloween ! Extremely proud of all the #CTUSEIUstrike Teachers/ staff/ parents/ allies! Kids are going to be all sugared tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/N2qX1zJo5B— Naomi S. #Biden2020 #KhiveforBiden (@NomiBlockS) October 31, 2019
2:21 p.m. A teacher’s tweet
Room 102, I can’t wait to see you tomorrow!!— Lauren Peretz (@MsPeretz) October 31, 2019
1:36 p.m. Must’ve felt good to hit “send”
Chicago Public Schools has been tweeting and sending a daily “Update on classes” message to families since the strike began. Here’s today’s:
Welcome back, everyone! pic.twitter.com/6BHr6j5BsC— ChicagoPublicSchools (@ChiPubSchools) October 31, 2019
1:30 p.m. IT’S OVER
Classes will resume Friday after city and union officials announced — separately — that they had reached a compromise about makeup days. Five school days will be made up, with the specifics yet to be determined. Our developing story is here.
11:45 a.m. Taking teachers’ temperature (they’re cold)
The crowds were smaller than they were earlier in the week, but a thrumming drumbeat and renewed indignation over the mayor’s stance on makeup days kept teachers marching around City Hall in bitter, windy, snowy conditions Thursday morning.
“I think we’re all really mad, because we’re still here,” said Bill Chlumsky, a special education teacher at Talman Elementary School in Gage Park. “We’ve agreed to end this strike, and all we want is for the mayor to give our kids back the days they’ve missed.”
With their health insurance expected to be suspended on Friday and an increasing weariness from the demands of being on strike, teachers said they are ready to head back to the classroom but remain determined to hold out on a deal until Mayor Lori Lightfoot agrees to add the missed school days — 11 and counting — back into the school year.
“It’s tough, it’s demoralizing, and it’s harder to come out every day,” Chlumsky said. “But if this is what we have to do to get our kids what they deserve, then that’s what we have to do.”
Chlumsky and fellow Talman teachers looked over the city’s offer while on the picket line Wednesday, and while Chlumsky said he still isn’t sure how he will vote when the contract goes out to the full membership, he said he thinks it will “probably” be accepted.
But, he said, “I think it’s really close down the middle.”
Art teacher Vanessa Viruet showed up to the rally dressed in the Halloween costume she had planned to share with her students at Spry Elementary Community School in Little Village. Her lime-green wig, polka-dot skirt, and bedazzled clown makeup were a bright spot among a sea of winter coats and umbrellas meant to guard against the falling snow.
“We’re tired and we’re cold, and we want to be back inside with our students first and foremost,” Viruet said. “We wouldn’t be out here if we didn’t love our children.”
Viruet had planned to go to the doctor this morning to squeeze in an important appointment the day before she is set to lose her health insurance, but that was before news broke late Wednesday night that teachers would return to the picket lines on Halloween.
“I hope we all don’t get sick out here, because that would be something else,” she noted wryly.
If Lightfoot concedes on the makeup day issue, Viruet said she and her fellow teachers are ready to get back to the classroom, even if the contract on the table doesn’t include everything they were hoping for.
“It’s the makeup days [we’re waiting for],” she said. “Everything else, I think we’re willing to give her the benefit of the doubt she’ll hold up her end of the deal.”
11:25 a.m. CTU at City Hall
Union President Jesse Sharkey has entered the mayor’s office at City Hall. Chicago Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Arne Rivera is also there, according to WBEZ’s Sarah Karp. Rivera has been a core member of the district’s negotiating team.
11 a.m. More makeup context
How to handle makeup days is usually negotiated as part of strike settlement deals, a National Council on Teacher Quality analyst told us this week. But that doesn’t mean the agreements always include makeup time.
The Chicago Teachers Union just shared its analysis of the last 35 years of teachers strikes in Illinois. Of 915 days lost to 107 strikes, it found, 75% were made up. That’s according to Chris Geovanis, a union spokesperson, who added, “We are truly in uncharted legal territory.”
In the two big-city strikes last school year, no makeup days were scheduled and no back pay was offered. Los Angeles students and teachers lost six days to the strike, while Denver’s strike lasted for thee days. Denver did offer teachers the opportunity to earn a day’s pay by attending a rescheduled weekend training session.
10 a.m. The Internet has ideas
The public has ideas for makeup days. Here are some of the many conversations we’ve seen on social media about the prospect.
9:30 a.m. Open to talking, but who’s calling whom?
In an update to press on Thursday morning, Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she’s willing to negotiate on the issue of makeup days for teachers that were missed during the strike — but she’s “not willing to do a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ unilateral demand.”
Options on the table include extending the school year, cutting short winter or spring break, or using other professional development days. Asked what she might consider, Lightfoot hedges: “We’re not going to negotiate in the media.”
Schools chief Janice Jackson steps up and says the district is reluctant to cut short breaks and disrupt family plans.
As for next steps, CTU President Jesse Sharkey said Wednesday night he was waiting on a call from the mayor. But Lightfoot says the “the ball is in [the union’s] court.”
“I’m here all day. If they’d like to have a conversation, they know where to find me.”
9:15 a.m. Frustrated families
Parents who are facing an 11th day with children out of school are expressing a mix of emotions, from confusion, to consternation, to downright anger. “I deeply appreciate the teachers,” says Alicia Blais, a South Side parent of a second grader and a preschooler. “But I don’t want CTU to drag out contract negotiations.” She said she’s also worried that her children, who have many years of schooling to go, will have to endure future strikes if peace isn’t reached.
Other reactions we’re seeing on social media in response to our question this morning: How are you feeling?
From the parent view, I'm pretty annoyed with both sides (& CTU had to work to get on par with the Mayor and CPS in earning my ire; I was with them through most of this, as I was in 2016 and 2012).— Scott Walter (@slwalter123) October 31, 2019
Drained and tired of watching my special needs child come unravelled from lack of school structure. Frustrated with how the mayor has handled this.— Blanche (@WestofPulaski) October 31, 2019
What happened Wednesday
It was an anxiety-producing 24 hours as teachers and Chicago Public Schools leadership worked toward a deal.
- Here’s what happened last night.
- Here’s why makeup days are an issue.
- Here’s the tentative agreement teachers voted for. Even once the strike ends, the union’s constitution will require the broader membership to vote on the document.d
- Here’s a detailed accounting of the topsy-turvy last 24 hours.
Also Wednesday: The 7,500 bus aides, special education assistants, and other school support staff who are members of Service Employees International Union Local 73 voted in favor of a deal with the city. Members remain on strike out of solidarity to teachers, but leadership has said they will not be considered “scabs” if they return to work.
What happens next? Teachers are planning at 10 a.m. rally at City Hall. There’s nothing yet on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s official schedule. We’ll track developments here.
Parents, students, teachers: How are you feeling about the latest developments? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message on Twitter or Facebook.