The first Chicago Teachers Union strike in 25 years is pushed into a second week after the CTU House of Delegates said they needed to present union members with the contract deal reached between CTU leadership and the city. Teachers returned to the picket at 7:30 a.m. today at both Chicago Public Schools and the downtown Board of Education headquarters. According to CTU, members will meet with House of Delegate representatives later today to discuss the contract.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CPS head Jean-Claude Brizard and Board President David Vitale each sent out statements last night excoriating the union for prolonging what they label a "strike of choice," and the mayor vowed to seek an injunction that would halt the walkout.
This morning, lawyers for CPS filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court in hopes of getting a preliminary injunction in order to end the strike right away. * The suit argues that CTU cannot wage a strike over issues that are not monetary, adding that the work stoppage is an afront to public health and safety. It is unclear what practical effect Emanuel's planned legal action will have, since the House of Delegates will meet again tomorrow afternoon and may greenlight the strike's end at that point.
CPS is moving forward with their strike contingency plan, stating that their programs can "serve over 160,000 students at over 450 sites in neighborhoods across the city." The plan now also includes City Colleges of Chicago campuses, which will begin providing open houses tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
* UPDATE 1 (11:45 a.m.): Cook County Circuit Judge Peter Flynn said this morning that he will not immediately hear CPS' case. According to the Chicago Tribune, Flynn might consider the matter as soon as Wednesday. However, the injunction could be irrelevant then if the CTU House of Delegates vote to end the strike in a scheduled meeting tomorrow afternoon.
The injunction adds to the bad blood between CPS and CTU. In their case before the circuit court, CPS argues that the teachers have put students at "a clear and present danger" to their health and safety through a "fundamentally and unmistakably illegal" walkout. The injunction argues that CTU can only strike over wages and benefits under Illinois labor law.
CTU responded in a statement that they are striking over "mandatory subjects of bargaining such as compensation, evaluation procedures, and the conditions within our classrooms."
CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin characterized the CPS's legal action as a "spur-of-the-moment decision" that "appears to be a vindictive act instigated by the mayor."