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With one week before strike, Chicago mayor says union not acting ‘urgently’ on proposals

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot stands at a wood podium. Four of her colleagues are behind her as are a U.S. flag and a city of Chicago flag.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot discusses teacher contract negotiations on Oct. 7, 2019. Behind her, from left, are Chicago school board President Miguel del Valle, schools chief Janice Jackson, Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade, and Alderman Michael Scott Jr.
Yana Kunichoff / Chalkbeat

A week before Chicago teachers could walk out, Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday morning accused the teachers union of not responding substantively to the city’s latest offer on pay and benefits.
“I am concerned that CTU leadership is not exhibiting the urgency needed to move these negotiations forward,” Lightfoot said as she held up a copy of a 50-page contract proposal the city submitted on Sep. 27. At a City Hall press conference, she contrasted it with the union’s slimmer offer.

Separately, union officials said they had rejected some of the city’s proposals, and maintained their criticism of the city for bargaining on only pay and health benefits — as is limited by law — while ignoring the union’s demands for contractual commitments to increase staffing and lower class sizes.

“Fifty pages of counterproposals from the board means they’re watering down what we’re trying to win for our students,” bargaining team member Robin Blake Boose said.

Lightfoot stood alongside schools chief Janice Jackson and chief education officer LaTanya McDade. School board President Miguel del Valle and alderman Michael Scott Jr., who heads the city’s education committee, also spoke at the Monday press conference in favor of the city’s proposals.

Jackson said the district and union agree on what Chicago’s students need, but can’t agree on how to get there.

“We know that CTU is looking for more than just a raise,” Jackson said. “The truth is we agree on many of the things that they have presented to strengthen our schools, which is why they have outlined that in our plan.”

Over the weekend, both sides reached out to their bases to build support.
The school district tweeted updates from the mayor about negotiations and videos of her press statements. Parents have also received messages from the school district about negotiations explaining the district’s position.

The union held a weekend art build that pulled in local artists and community members who painted banners and signs reading “fighting for the schools Chicago’s students deserve” and “safe sanctuary schools for all.”

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