Westmont, Illinois – Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery released the following statement upon the approval of an agreement between Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) members and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for a return to in-person instruction.
“Congratulations to President Jesse Sharkey, Vice President Stacy Davis Gates, and CTU’s bargaining team for negotiating a contract that protects union members, students, and the community during this pandemic. Your leadership has set the gold standard for all school districts who are working to bargain a safe return to in-person instruction.
“Most of all, we congratulate the members of the CTU. This agreement is the result of your collective action. As professionals and unionists, you refused to back down until you won what was needed to protect yourselves, your families, and your students. You demonstrated the true power of solidarity.
“The agreement with CPS sends a powerful message to every school district that it is imperative to partner with unions to ensure a safe reopening of schools. Teachers everywhere want to be in their classrooms with students, but safety must be the priority. The CTU/CPS agreement proves that a safe return can be accomplished when we work together.
“As new, more contagious COVID variants emerge, mitigation in our schools becomes even more critical. From the start of the pandemic, our union has recommended that agreements for a return to in-person instruction must include a metric for closure if cases surge, frequent testing, proper ventilation, adequate cleaning, PPE, vaccinations for teachers and staff, and remote work accommodations for those who are most susceptible to the virus or live with those who are high risk. We are hopeful that CTU’s agreement will stand as an example for others across Illinois and the country to follow.
“As we continue to fight to ensure that all K-12 teachers, staff, and students can safely return to classrooms at the appropriate time, we will also persist in our efforts to urge Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health to include higher education faculty and staff in Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination plan. Doing so will ensure the highest level of safety for all education professionals, their students, and Illinois communities at this challenging time.”
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The lIlinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) represents 103,000 teachers and paraprofessionals in PreK-12 school districts throughout Illinois, faculty and staff at Illinois’ community colleges and universities, public employees under every statewide elected constitutional officer, and retirees.