Tobias Straus

Students strike outside City Hall.

Eighth day of CTU strike marked by student-led demonstrations

October 28, 2019

Student-led demonstrations outside City Hall on Monday marked the eighth day of the CTU’s longest strike since 1987.

After a weekend of bargaining, the city has yet to reach an agreement with the Teachers Union despite reaching a tentative settlement with SEIU Local 73, the union representing bus aides, custodians, security officers and special education classroom assistants. The SEIU, however, remains on strike in an act of solidarity with the Teachers Union. 

A flyer posted online prompted approximately 175 students to meet at the Chicago Freedom School in the South Loop, located near Jones College Prep. 

“We weren’t expecting this many people; we were expecting 20 at the most,” said Alondra Maltos, a junior from Lindblom Math and Science Academy who helped organize the action. “I guess word got around.” 

While marching to City Hall the demonstrators chanted, met with honks of approval from passing cars and teachers. 

“We’re trying to reach not only Lori Lightfoot and the CEO of CPS, but we’re also trying to reach our teachers and show them their students haven’t abandoned them,” said Aaliya Crews, a senior at Lindblom who also worked to plan the event. 

The students marched from the Chicago Freedom School to City Hall, where they were met by a crowd of about 150 CTU members. A sit-in then took place for 40 minutes — each minute representing one student in an overcrowded classroom. 

While sitting, the students wrote and drew messages with sidewalk chalk around City Hall in support of the teachers. 

“Our teachers don’t get enough support,” Maxwell Jenkins, Div. 361, said.“We need to stand strong.”

After the sit-in, students and teachers took a lap around the City Hall and entered the lobby. Chants and cheers erupted throughout halls as the demonstrators were slowly pushed out of the public space by police. The students were soon joined outside by Aldermen Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd Ward) and Andre Vasquez (40th Ward). 

“Teachers are trying to make things better for the whole city,” Rodriguez-Sanchez said, “and this is an opportunity to do that and we need to listen to them.” 

Last night at a press conference, however, Janice Jackson, the CEO of CPS, criticized the teachers’ refusal to accept an offer reportedly worth $500 million which would have resulted in an end the strike keeping students out of school. 

“[The strike] has caused great disruption and pain for so many of our families. Students have missed out every step of the way, and the longer the strike goes on, those moments and memories are forever lost,” Jackson said.

The mayor agreed. “Our students are continuing to bear the hardest burden,” Lightfoot said, “[The CTU] wanted to get this contract to transform public education in Chicago. This is exactly what our offer does.” 

This is Lightfoot’s first contract negotiation with the CTU, and the prolonged fight has shaped up to be the first major political battle during her tenure as mayor.

The CTU and the city failed to reach an agreement, prompting CPS to cancel school on Tuesday. The CTU plans to march from Trebes Park to the Lincoln Yards megadevelopment at 8 a.m. tomorrow, while a group of students has organized another student-led rally nearby at DePaul. They intend to join the teachers to march Lincoln Yards.

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