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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot backs down again in the face of looming teachers strike

By staff |
February 2, 2021
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Chicago, IL - Talks continued between the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Chicago Public School System (CPS) Monday evening, February 1, even as the teachers prepared to announce a strike to start as early as Tuesday morning. The teachers have been fighting to keep schools operating remotely until a time when CPS offers a plan for in-person learning that is safe for students, staff and teachers.

Mayor Lightfoot had threatened to lock the teachers out as of Tuesday morning if they did not show up for class in person. The teachers have been continuing to teach classes remotely despite increasing pressure from the city to return in person. Monday evening, right on the eve of the lockout and possible strike, Mayor Lightfoot backed down yet again and announced that the lockouts would not happen today and that for the next 48 hours talks would continue to happen and classes would remain remote. This represents another victory for the teachers who have repeatedly refused Mayor Lightfoot’s ultimatums and pushed the date further back through collective action.

CTU President Jesse Sharkey has said repeatedly that the teachers don’t want to strike, and do want to keep teaching, but need to do that remotely until there is an agreement that would allow schools to reopen safely. President Sharkey said, “We are not locked out today or tomorrow because of our members’ unity, their commitment to their school communities and their fearless solidarity.” Sharkey went on to say, “None of this is easy. The uncertainty and risk our educators, our students and our families confront all take a toll. And all of the progress we’ve made to date in winning real gains at the table is possible because of the tireless work and dedication of our rank-and-file members, our strike captains, our delegates, our parents, our allies and ordinary Chicagoans who trust us to do what’s right by our schoolchildren.”

The Chicago Teachers Union has gone on strike against CPS twice in the last ten years and has voted to authorize a strike if needed in order to keep students, staff and teachers safe during the pandemic. Talks are now set to resume for the next 48 hours, during which time teaching will continue to be done remotely.