The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) continues its war with Chicago’s public school district as reopening dates get closer. The city’s schools partially reopened earlier this year despite objections from the teachers union. Middle school and elementary students returned to in-person learning on a part-time basis. High school students are scheduled for a full return on April 19. This infuriates the CTU, which wants to continue virtual classrooms and distance learning.
The CTU Keeps Demanding More
When Chicago Public Schools (CPS) decided to phase out virtual classes, the CTU vigorously objected. The two organizations battled for months. The union wanted all teachers vaccinated before schools reopened plus special allowances for vulnerable teachers to operate virtual classrooms indefinitely. When the district wouldn’t cave, the union threatened to strike.
The problem? That would have broken their collective bargaining agreement. The sides struck a deal to prioritize vaccinations for teachers and to expand policies regarding virtual classrooms. As a full reopening of Chicago schools got closer, the tentative peace fell apart.
Did the Chicago Teachers Union Act in Bad Faith?
The latest salvo occurred when the school district emailed parents about the upcoming return to school for older students. In this communication, the district claimed that talks with the union were productive. Not long after, the CTU sent out its own email denying that they were close to an agreement. Worse, the union claimed that the district was distorting the negotiations. The problem? Jesse Sharkey, the union president, had not only already seen the email, but she had also suggested corrections to it, which the district made.
CPS responded by releasing screencaps of their conversation to the press and accusing the union of acting in bad faith.
What Does the CTU Want?
The Chicago Teachers Union demands information on how many school staff members have been vaccinated. They also want the numbers on how many middle and elementary students returned to in-person classes. They claim they won’t return until they can be sure that schools are safe. However, this has been called into question. After demanding vaccination numbers from CPS, the union sent out an email urging teachers not to respond to the district’s vaccination survey.