The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has warned teachers to prepare for a protracted strike next year in response to warnings of drastic cuts from Chicago Public Schools (CPS) thanks to a deepening budget crisis.
The union will take a test strike vote Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015 to poll where members stand on the issue. The CTU needs approval from 75 percent of members before a strike can occur.
Layoff Threats Fuel Strike Threats
The CPS is facing a $480 million deficit in its current budget, which the CEO Forrest Claypool is pushing for the state to cover. Despite Claypools hope for a bailout from the state, help may not come any time soon. Without the bailout, the CPS has threatened to lay off up to 5,000 teachers to close the budget gap.
The CPS originally planned to issue layoff notices by Thanksgiving, but Claypool has pushed the decision back to the start of the second semester in early February. CTU President Karen Lewis has made it clear that this is not a viable option and that the layoffs would greatly disrupt the students and learning.
With the threat of layoffs looming, Lewis and the CTU amped up its rhetoric with the fresh threat of a strike, urging its teachers to save at least 25 percent of their pay as preparation for a strike.
Contract negotiations between CTU and CPS are still ongoing and several legal steps remain before teachers are able to strike. The union has called for talks to move into one of the final stages, known as fact-finding.”
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