Despite threats of a strike, the Chicago Teachers Union likely won’t walk out in May. Concerns of a strike’s impact on pay and health insurance may keep teachers on the job until the end of the school year.
Teachers’ salaries are often paid out over a 10-month period rather than one year; by striking in May, teachers could risk losing their last paychecks. Unanswered questions as to whether teachers would lose their health insurance benefits as a result of the strike are also swaying the union’s decision to forego the strike.
Previously, teachers were expecting a potential strike as soon as May 16th, leaving classrooms without educators with more than a month of school left. The Vice President of the Chicago Teachers Union now says teachers likely will not strike in May unless the leadership of the Chicago Public Schools makes good on their threat to revoke the teachers’ seven percent pension benefit.
A Fall Strike Likely?
According to a union statement, a strike could be coming at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year if contract negotiations are not successful. Striking in the fall offers advantages to teachers. By returning in the fall then going on strike, their healthcare benefits will resume and they’ll have the opportunity to make up their lost wages, as missed days are likely to be added to the end of that school year. This situation may be preferable, as striking in May means a loss of pay as well as health insurance over the summer.
Chicago teachers are also hesitant to strike with upcoming final exams, as the public school district has said exams would be cancelled if teachers strike. The union also wishes to protect parental support, as many parents were impacted by the April 7th one-day strike as well as furlough days.
Teachers have been without a contract since June 2015, and the union has been threatening to strike for several months after contract negotiations failed. Chicago Public School has threatened to layoff thousands of teachers amid a massive budget deficit.
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