Chicago public schools canceled classes again on Thursday; Mayor Lightfoot says unfair labor practices complaint filed against union

by Dana Kozlov and Charlie De Maru


Chicago (CBS) – Chicago Public Schools chief executive Pedro Martinez said Wednesday evening that there is “no choice” but to cancel classes again on Thursday.

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It follows a vote by the Chicago Teachers Association for virtual learning amid a COVID-19 surge – which prompted Martinez to cancel classes on Wednesday and which she and Mayor Lori Lightfoot also flagged as an illegal walkout are doing.

Responding to a question Wednesday evening from CBS 2’s Charlie de March, Mayor Lightfoot also confirmed that an unfair labor practices complaint has been filed. But where it goes depends on what happens at the bargaining table, Meyer said.


“If the mayor needs to drag us to court, you know, to try to force us to do what she wants, we’re going to go to court and point out that’s what we’re doing. Which we think is necessary,” Sharkey, president of the Chicago Teachers Association, said earlier in the day.

Martinez hit out at the union on Thursday, saying the parents were left hanging without an answer until the result of the vote to go away was announced at around 11 p.m., saying it was a It was a “very sad day” as they left the school past and heard the children crying as they turned away in the morning.

“It was an illegal strike,” Martinez said of CTU’s remote learning action.


“Under state law, we as a district are not authorized to go remote,” Martinez said. “We are not authorized.”

Martínez said he met with more than 50 principals on Wednesday, and clarified that any remote instruction to be carried out by the CPS would have to include emergency days – which are initially rare.

Martinez stressed that CPS is ready to move individual schools to distance learning if there are rising COVID-19 cases – but he said a systemwide shutdown is not warranted or permitted.


Till Friday, CPS issued this notice:

“Some schools have enough staff to work in person to return to instruction on Friday, January 7. Other schools have more limited capacity, and give students learning packets to use during this illegal work pause. and other materials. Your school principal will contact your individual school community to see what level of education they can provide your family. Individual learning can be started as early as possible.

Meanwhile, Mayor Lightfoot—repeatedly voiced at a news conference with Martinez on Wednesday evening—asked why the union took action to walk away when the safest place for kids is at school.

“The worst possible thing we can do is abandon the science; leave the data,” Mayor Lightfoot said.

Mayor Lightfoot reiterated his argument that schools are safe, and has invested $100 million for ventilation and other mitigation measures in schools.

“We will not bow down. Enough is enough. We are determined, and we are going to fight for what our kids learn individually,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Period, full stop.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot also questioned CTU’s claim that they plan to go away by January 18 – which appeared in a memo to teachers at the announcement of the vote late Tuesday.

“Do we have any guarantee from them that this will be an arbitrary date they choose?” The mayor said. “not us.”

The mayor said that teachers who come to school to teach on Friday will be paid and those who do not will be paid.

“We will not pay you for an illegal, one-sided strike,” the mayor said.

Also at the news conference, Dr. Alison Arvadi, director of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said the city’s argument that schools are safe is not based solely on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. She said experts have been collecting data in Chicago throughout the pandemic, and actually found higher levels of infection in both children and staff who were on distance learning at school than those who attended school in person.

Arvadi said COVID-19 is more likely to spread in people’s homes where people let down their guards, and not in schools where there are stricter rules. He said that while children often get quarantined as close contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19, very few quarantined children themselves test positive.

Meanwhile, union leaders also met with the district on Wednesday, potentially to work out some sort of settlement. The meeting lasted a few hours and no agreement was reached.

Hundreds of Chicago public school teachers formed a caravan with their cars and horns in Union Park after a day from class. There were signs on his windshield, “Don’t shut us down, we teach.”

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The caravan later proceeded to the City Hall.

“Right now, going to schools puts us at risk,” Sharkey said.

Winter breaks after only three days, and all Chicago public schools are without students in classes once again. The lights were lit in CPS schools on Wednesday, but the matter was nothing special – once a CPS teacher Voted to work remotely only, the head of the district did exactly what he said he would do. He canceled all classes.

“This situation is not what we like,” Sharkey said. “Rather we would love to teach in our classes. We want in-person schools to open.”

Sharkey said that of the 20,000 teachers who cast electronic ballots on Tuesday, 73 percent voted to go remote because of the spike in COVID-19 cases. In a post-vote letter, Sharkey told members that once COVID surges “reduce significantly,” or the union reaches an agreement with the district that includes a student testing plan, they will Will be back personally.

“Run a test-to-return program the way they have in other cities, and then once you bring people back, there’s an effective screening test,” Sharkey said.

A CTU spokesperson said she believes teachers will also need to be tested for the virus until they drop out – if such a testing agreement is in place.

If matters didn’t abate and no settlement was reached, the union said, teachers would hold out until January 18, but Mayor Lightfoot said the union doesn’t get to take that call.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday night, “We asked CTU leadership — take a moment, review the plan, come back to us with feedback at the bargaining table, delay the vote — not stop an illegal job.” “And to that, the answer was, ‘No, sorry, we’re moving on.'”

Kozlov asked labor attorney Kerry-Lynn Krafthefer how she saw the situation from a labor law perspective.

“Well, it really comes down to who has the ability to determine how and where services are to be provided, and that’s an inherent managerial authority,” Kraftpfeffer said.

Some teachers posted photos of themselves trying to work remotely on Wednesday but found themselves locked out of the system – something that CEO Martinez warned would happen to teachers who don’t report in person. .

Teachers’ salaries were deducted with remote access.

“We want to have a settlement agreement,” Sharkey said.

Meanwhile, with classes again canceled on Thursday, parents were once again forced to scramble for alternative plans.

“It’s a scuffle – I think both logically as well as mentally,” said parent Lisa Zhao.

Teachers also threatened not to return to work in schools last spring, but negotiated a safety plan to return to schools. That settlement expired in late August, and the union said the school board didn’t feel it needed to hold another negotiation.

Mayor Lightfoot said city officials have been talking with the union for months, but the bottom line is that no current safety agreement exists.

For Thursday, CPS noted that take-home breakfast and lunch will be available from 9 a.m. to noon at CPS schools for anyone under the age of 18 who needs a meal.

Families who need child care options can turn to someone safe haven – all of which have been listed by CPS. Sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Chicago Park District Field houses will also be open and available to children 6 years of age and older, and the Chicago Public Library locations are open during normal hours – although children may not be left unattended in the libraries. community based organization There are also day programs offered for kids across the city.

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