Chicago Teachers Strike Enters Its 8th Day On Monday

Oct 28, 2019
Originally published on October 28, 2019 6:51 am
Copyright 2019 WBEZ Chicago. To see more, visit WBEZ Chicago.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Talks between the Chicago Teachers Union and the city are at a standstill, and an ongoing strike leaves 300,000 students out of school for an eighth day. Here's Sarah Karp from member station WBEZ.

SARAH KARP, BYLINE: After a weekend of marathon bargaining sessions lasting late into the night, the teachers union and the school district seemed at their wits end. This is Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LORI LIGHTFOOT: We are enormously disappointed.

KARP: And this is the union's vice president, Stacy Davis Gates.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

STACY DAVIS GATES: This is deeply frustrating that we are still in neutral.

KARP: It's come down to money, to reduce class size and to hire more staff. In fact, this entire strike has been about improving the working and learning conditions in schools - not, Davis Gates says, take-home pay.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DAVIS GATES: Nothing that we are, quote, "stuck on" in this moment are things that we take home with us. Like, no one is going to put a nurse in their pocket and take her home. No one is taking a restorative justice coordinator or librarian and taking them to their home.

KARP: The union says, to end the strike, teachers need to feel a real financial commitment from the city. But Lightfoot and the school district insist they can't afford any more money than they've already put on the table. What's more, Lightfoot says, promises already on the table will transform the schools.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LIGHTFOOT: This offer to the CTU takes an immensely precarious fiscal situation, deals with it responsibly and still manages to make historic investments where they are most needed.

KARP: She says the union should just take the deal. Meanwhile, students are anxious to get back to class. Millie Arias is a senior. She was at a big union rally downtown on Friday. She says class size is a problem at her school, where even honors classes often have more than 35 students. So she says she understands why teachers are on strike, but as days go on...

MILLIE ARIAS: Honestly, I kind of miss school.

KARP: Also, college applications are due soon, and Arias says she could really use the help of her teachers.

For NPR News, I'm Sarah Karp in Chicago.

(SOUNDBITE OF KUPLA'S "SORCERY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.