Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Dian Palmer marches with Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey and Vice President Stacy Davis Gates in downtown Chicago on October 14, 2019. (Photo: Max Herman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Demanding 'Pay and Benefits That Give Us Dignity,' 25,000 Chicago Public School Teachers Go on Strike

"Our children deserve the best that this city has to offer. They do not deserve broken promises."

Jake Johnson

Accusing Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot of rejecting contract proposals that would create better public school conditions for educators and students, the 25,000-member Chicago Teachers Union went on strike Thursday to push for "pay and benefits that give us dignity and respect."

In addition to teachers, more than 7,000 teacher aides, security guards, and custodians—members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73—will join CTU's strike.

The goal of the walk-out in the nation's third-largest school district is "to win—in writing, in an enforceable contract—learning and working conditions that respect educators and provide Chicago's students with the schools they deserve," the union said in a statement Wednesday night.

"Educators are fighting for conditions that include smaller class sizes, adequate staffing—from social workers and school nurses to librarians and teachers for English language learners and special education students—and living wages for paraprofessionals, some of whom earn less than $30,000/year," said CTU.

Classes for around 300,000 Chicago Public School students were canceled on Thursday in anticipation of the strike, which follows months of tense contract negotiations. Teachers and school workers are expected to begin taking to the picket lines at 6:30 am CT ahead of a mass rally and march in the afternoon.

Stacy Davis Gates, vice president of CTU, told reporters Wednesday that "our children deserve the best that this city has to offer."

"They do not deserve broken promises. Our South Side communities, our West Side communities are littered with broken promises, unkept commitments," said Davis Gates. "This contract has to represent something different for the city of Chicago—it has got to represent something different. And she ran to do that. Period."

Chicago-based writer Devin Schiff called the walk-out "one of the most significant strikes in years" in an article for the socialist magazine Jacobin on Wednesday.

"The most important aspect of the unions' strategy for the labor movement is their commitment to solidarity—not only with fellow members of their own union, but with another union, Local 73, as well as students and all of working-class Chicago," wrote Schiff.

"The CTU and SEIU draw direct lines from crumbling facilities and understaffing to policies of privatization and austerity, and take initiative in areas not traditionally seen as within educators' purview, like housing and immigration," Schiff added. "By doing so, they're showing how these factors all affect the educator’s capacity to teach and the student’s capacity to learn. Their case is unimpeachable."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'People Power Has Won The Day': Manchin Dirty Deal Defeated

The win was the result of "hundreds of national and grassroots organizations, along with concerned Americans from coast to coast, working together for the health and safety of frontline communities and a livable future for the planet," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·


Emissions Unleashed by Manchin Deal Would 'Wipe Out' Any Climate Gains: Analysis

"This analysis shows that Manchin's dirty deal directly undercuts the potential carbon savings of the IRA by fast-tracking fossil fuel projects currently waiting on permits," said Fossil Free Media's Jamie Henn.

Jessica Corbett ·


Florida Told to Brace for Deadly Impact as Ian Expected to Become Category 4 Hurricane

The Tampa Bay area has long been a "sitting duck for catastrophic storm surge and has dodged several bullets," said one climate scientist. "Might not be so lucky this time."

Brett Wilkins ·


Progressives Applaud Biden for Lowering Medicare Part B Premiums

"Democrats want to expand Social Security and Medicare," said one advocate. "Republicans want to cut, privatize, and ultimately end both programs."

Kenny Stancil ·


Suit Against Student Debt Relief Slammed as 'Transparently Frivolous Publicity Stunt'

"Why would this group bring this baseless claim?" asked the White House. "Because opponents of the debt relief plan are trying anything they can to stop this program that will provide needed relief to working families."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo