Chicago, IL – On April 2, Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker signed a bill, in opposition of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, that restores bargaining rights for Chicago teachers over a wide variety of issues that affect teachers and students in Illinois. This bill repeals a previous law from 1995 that limited the teachers’ rights to bargain over things like class size, layoffs, the timing of the school year, and other things. The previous bill had given power over the school district over to the mayor and ultimately was part of setting up disputes between the Chicago teachers Union (CTU) and previous Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as well as current Mayor Lori Lightfoot, that led to multiple teachers strikes in Chicago.
Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey had this to say about it, “With his signature today, Governor Pritzker has now restored the right to bargain freely for real equity in our public schools and advance our organizing for the common good. The restoration of our fundamental labor rights lies at the heart of Karen’s [previous CTU President Karen Lewis] legacy as a fighter for racial and economic justice and as a fearless advocate for those disenfranchised in our city by systemic racism and multi-generational neglect.
“We owe our students, their families and community allies an enormous debt of gratitude in setting the stage to reverse this unjust 1995 law, passed by a Republican legislature and a Republican governor – and backed by three consecutive mayors.”
The Chicago teachers argue that the Illinois state legislature has another step that they must now take, which is to give Chicagoans the right to elect their own school board as happens in other cities in Illinois. They say that would help bring equity and democracy to Chicago public schools.
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