October 1, 2019Press Release
United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) stands in solidarity with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and SEIU Local 73 in the wake of their strike authorization votes after months of fruitless contract negotiations with new Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago School Board. Last week 94% of CTU members voted in favor of a strike. Educators could walk off the job and onto the picket lines as soon as October 7.
Just as UTLA had to go on strike in January 2019 to win improvements for the students of Los Angeles, Chicago teachers are ready to walk to win the schools their communities deserve.
Because of a state law that changes funding formulas and other sources, Chicago Public Schools has about one billion more dollars available annually than in recent years—yet city officials continue to push an austerity agenda. Chicago schools are desperately short of nurses, social workers, psychologists, counselors, and other support staff, even as students struggle with high levels of trauma driven by poverty and neighborhood violence.
“In the richest country in the world, if students aren’t getting what they need, the issue is not a lack of money but a lack of political will,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said. “If elected leaders are not capable of leading on reinvestment, then teachers, parents, and students will continue taking to the streets to defend the essential civic institution of public education. We stand with Chicago educators in their righteous fight.”
The Chicago educators’ top demands include lower class sizes to prevent the current practice of packing some kindergarten classes with more than 40 students each; increased numbers of school nurses, social workers, and other critical frontline staff; protections for special education students and English language learners; a higher wage floor for school clerks, teaching assistants, and other paraprofessionals, many of whom earn wages so low their children qualify for free and reduced-price school lunches; and a greater investment of resources into classroom needs and student supports.
Chicago teachers are also pressing common good proposals and demanding that the school district take a stand on larger issues that affect the community, including curbing charter school expansion, supporting campaigns for affordable housing policies, and officially designating the school system a “sanctuary” for undocumented people. UTLA educators won a number of our common good demands during our strike, including support for immigrant students, a program to end disruptive “random” student searches, and expansion of green space on campuses.
The UTLA Officers
UTLA/NEA VICE PRESIDENT
UTLA/AFT VICE PRESIDENT
ELEMENTARY VICE PRESIDENT
SECONDARY VICE PRESIDENT