Illinois House Democrats Vote to Strengthen Chicago Teachers Union

Apr 27, 2017



Credit NPR Illinois

With support from labor unions, Illinois House Democrats passed legislation Wednesday that would restore certain bargaining rights for Chicago Public Schools teachers — letting them negotiate with the city on things like class size, length of school day, and layoffs.

For the last 22 years, Chicago Public School Teachers have been constrained in collective bargaining — limits that don’t apply to teachers in the rest of the state. The legislation would restore that parity — letting Chicago teachers have a say in private vendor contracts, class schedules and size, and the length of the school day.

Representative Silvana Tabares ,D-Chicago, the proposal’s sponsor, tied the interests of teachers with students. “Teachers will have a voice to have a discussion about these items, and that will improve the quality of education.”

Opponents take a different tack, that what’s good for teachers is not always what’s good for students. Representative Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, says the bargaining limits were established after multiple harmful strikes from CPS teachers in the 1980s.

“The strikes in the city of Chicago in those prior years were not good for those students, not good for those parents, not good for the city. Changing this back in the name of equality is not the answer for these school children,” he said.

Governor Bruce Rauner has argued for the opposite policy Democrats are pursuing. He says the limits on bargaining for Chicago teachers should be imposed everywhere else in the state.

The Chicago Mayor’s Office is also against the measure.