by Rachel Cromidas
The Chicago Teachers Union has overwhelmingly voted to authorize a teachers' strike if the city doesn't meet its contract negotiation demands.
Over 96 percent of the union's 27,000-some members voted in favor of a strike, with a 92 percent voter turnout, CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey announced in a Monday morning press conference. Thousands of public school teachers voted last week to determine whether the union would be able to hold another strike, and the union needed at least 75 percent of its members to vote yes on a strike.
The union held a massive, historic strike in the fall of 2012 when contract negotiations with the city broke down. With its contract expiring again, union leaders say they will threaten a strike if the school board doesn't acquiesce to their demands, which include preventing layoffs.
The union has been negotiating a new contract with the city and trying to stave off thousands of potential job cuts, looming in part because of the state's seemingly unending budget impasse. Just because a strike has been authorized doesn't mean teachers will be flooding the streets in red shirts at any moment. The Teachers Union House of Delegates must now set a strike date for sometime in the future.
"Members of the Chicago Teachers Union do not want to strike, but we will if you do not listen to us," Sharkey said, echoing the vote's message to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and public schools chief Forrest Claypool. "Do not cut our schools, do not layoff our staff to solve the budget problem on the backs of educators."
Read the full article from Chicagoist.