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Chicago Teachers Union will go to trial on CPS refusal to bargain over reopening

By staff |
December 29, 2020
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Chicago, IL - On December 17, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB), on a split 2-1 vote, denied the union’s request to seek a preliminary injunction against Chicago Public Schools’ unilaterally-developed plan to resume in-person learning on January 4.

The two-member majority of the IELRB, Lara Shayne and Gilbert O’Brien, did so on the narrow grounds that they believe a full evidentiary trial is needed to determine whether Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is obligated under a provision of state law that only applies to Chicago Public Schools - Section 4.5 of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act - to bargain with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) about its decision to resume in-person learning during the pandemic.

The trial on the complaint the IELRB has issued against CPS over its refusal to bargain is currently scheduled before an administrative law judge on January 26. The CTU is seeking to have that trial date moved up, before CPS’ mandatory return date for pre-kindergarten and special education cluster students, who CPS is seeking to force back into unsafe buildings on January 4.

The union expects CPS to oppose an expedited hearing. Without that ruling, by January 4, CPS could be allowed to put people in danger with its unilateral plan, even as the district plan could be declared illegal after the fact, making the remedy for the legal violation meaningless.

“In that case, all options will be on the table for the CTU to enforce our rights and protect the health, safety and livelihoods of students, educators and their families,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said.