Union, grassroots allies call on legislature to restore democratic rights to Chicagoans by passing legislation giving Chicagoans what voters in every other school district in the state possess – the right to elect their school board.
CHICAGO, Jan. 11, 2020—The Chicago Teachers Union issued the following statement today in the wake of the Illinois Senate’s passage of HB 2275, which restores to the members of the CTU the same bargaining rights that every other labor union has in the state. Statements from AFT President Randi Weingarten, IFT President Dan Montgomery, and SEIU Local 73 President Dian Palmer are also below:
The CTU and our allies have struggled for years to win back the fundamental labor rights that every other union of educators in the state has today: the right to bargain with management to improve our students’ learning conditions. In Chicago, where 90 percent of our students are Black and Brown, the passage of this bill represents the restoration of our ability to bargain for real equity for our working class students and students of color.
This bill passed because of the tireless work of our rank and file members, and the vital support of a broad coalition of grassroots allies, our students and families. We all owe a debt of gratitude to beloved CTU president emerita Karen Lewis, who first began the Union’s renewed push to repeal section 4.5 of the state’s education code a decade ago.
We look forward to the Governor’s signature on this bill, and urge the State Legislature to move swiftly to take up legislation granting Chicagoans the right that residents in every other school district in the state possess: the right to elect their school board members. In an historical moment when the people need transparency, accountability and democracy now more than ever, we urge this most fundamental restoration of democratic rights to every Chicago voter.
We want to extend our special appreciation to the bill’s sponsors, including Senator Bill Cunningham, former State Rep. and current Chicago Alderman Silvana Tabares, and former State Rep. and current Chicago City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Irvin.
Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers, issued this statement in response to the Senate's repeal of Section 4.5:
"Collective bargaining is our vehicle to solve problems and empower communities to thrive. Without it, the dialogue between educators and their district is diminished and the risk of antipathy and misunderstanding is multiplied. CTU has waged a righteous fight to restore educators' bargaining rights since 1995. The passage of HB 2275 means the union is one Governor's signature away from the same rights as every other Illinois school district. This bill won't just help Chicago educators get their voice heard--it will help negotiate a safe school reopening plan to benefit educators and students alike."
Dan Montgomery, President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, issued this statement in response to the Senate's repeal of Section 4.5:
"Today is a great victory for all educators and our members statewide who have been fighting to repeal section 4.5 of the state's education code since 1995. The passage of this bill will restore real equity by allowing bargaining of smaller class sizes and much-needed resources for the children of the city of Chicago. We’ve said for decades that Chicago’s students deserve the same protections and resources that can be collectively bargained throughout the rest of Illinois. And now it is within reach. We urge Gov. Pritzker to sign the bill into law with dispatch.”
Dian Palmer, President of SEIU Local 73, which represents 7,000 custodians, school security officers and other non-CTU union members in Chicago's public schools:
“This is a major victory for teachers, school employees and students. Third party contracting has resulted in debacles like the privatization of school custodians resulting in filthy and unhealthy classrooms, privatization of nurses putting students’ health at risk, and the proposed elimination of school clerks, a predominantly Black and Latina woman workforce.”
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The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in schools funded by City of Chicago School District 299, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States.