CFL News
September 04, 2012

Unions show solidarity with teachers on Labor Day

Dozens of local unions joined members of the Chicago Teachers Union for a solidarity rally in Daley Plaza on Labor Day

Union members from dozens of local unions packed into Daley Plaza to show their support for Chicago public school teachers during tense contract negotiations at a Labor Day rally. More than 15,000 people--most of whom wore red, the color of the Chicago Teachers Union--rallied Monday calling for a fair contract for teachers as students prepared to return to school.

“We are fighting for the soul of public education and public institutions in general,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “Public workers have been vilified and blamed for all that’s wrong with our economy and nation. An injury to one is an injury to us all.

“Rather than focus on ending the destructive policies that have drained neighborhood schools of their resources and set them up for failure the Board chooses to attack our collective bargaining rights, alienate parents and community and demoralize our students. And by the way, 6,000 students were impacted by CPS’ disruptive school actions just last year.  Public schools are a public good and we must fight to preserve them, strengthen them and support and educate our children who attend them,” she said.

Lewis and her bargaining team of rank-and-file members have been in contract negotiations with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) since November 2011.  With more than 50 bargaining sessions under their belt, Union negotiators say the District has failed to address some of the bigger contract disputes such as pay, job security and resources for students.  CTU was able to win contract language that will guarantee books and supplies on the first day of school and ensure educators and students have access to working computers. 

CTU leaders are hopeful that a strike can be avoided, however, if issues are not resolved by midnight September 9, teachers, paraprofessionals and school clinicians have prepared their families, schools and colleagues for the strike action. The last teachers’ strike lasted 19 days.

Speaking at the rally were Bob Reiter, Secretary-Treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor; Michael Shields, President of the Fraternal Order of Police, Robert T. Yager of the United Auto Workers Local 2320; AFSCME Council 31 Director Henry Bayer; SEICU Local 73 Treasurer Matt Brandon; Mack Julion, President of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 11; Jitu Brown of the Kenwood Oakwood Association; Jan Rodolfo of the National Nurses United, Bill McNary of Citizen Action, and others.

You can view a photo gallery from the rally here