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Chicago Teachers Union plans one-day strike

By Joe Iosbaker |
March 22, 2016
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Joe Iosbaker (right) is co-chair of the Joint Bargaining Committee (JBC) of SEIU
Joe Iosbaker (right) is co-chair of the Joint Bargaining Committee (JBC) of SEIU Local 73 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Representing 3800 workers, the JBC has endorsed the April 1 protests. (Photo credit: Frank James Johnson)

Chicago, IL - A plan is in the works for April 1 protests across Chicago to oppose attacks coming down on working people and the oppressed, and rich people are extremely nervous about it. The school board, appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has attacked the teachers, claiming that their upcoming strike is illegal and harms the children. But Rahm has less than a 20% approval rating, while the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has a 60% approval rating, and even more support among those whose children they teach.

Picket lines will go up at schools that Friday morning, April 1, and later that day, the union is calling for teachers to head downtown for a 4:30 demonstration in the Loop, Chicago’s business district. A coalition of more than a dozen other unions, and 30 community groups will be protesting as well.

The main demand is for the city and state to develop a sustainable revenue plan to fund public education, childcare, colleges, health services and supports, which are being decimated by politicians. The mayor and Governor Bruce Rauner have both brought down austerity on public services, in order to keep profits flowing to the bankers on LaSalle Street, Chicago’s ‘Wall Street.’ The teachers union has also demanded that hundreds of millions of dollars in Tax Increment Finance (TIF) zones, which benefit only wealthy developers, go back to the communities they were stolen from.

The coalition is also embracing the demands of Chicagoans who are fighting for justice, against police crimes and to defend the rights of immigrants. For example, the CTU has supported an elected school board, and the coalition has echoed this, as well as an elected, civilian police accountability council.

Sarah Chambers, executive board member of CTU, said, “We are fighting for progressive revenue like the Millionaire’s Tax, the Progressive Income Tax, LaSalle Street Tax on every trade, and for TIF reserves to be returned to our schools.” Responding to the attacks on the strike by the school board, she stated, “The consequences of not striking are far worse than the consequences of striking.”