More than 20,000 Chicago teachers walked off the job Friday as part of a one-day strike, canceling classes for almost 400,000 students.
Officially dubbed a “walkout,” in part because a full-blown strike would violate federal labor laws, the one-day stunt by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is intended to put pressure on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Bruce Rauner to increase funding and make other concessions. It’s the first labor stoppage by Chicago teachers since the fall of 2012 when they embarked on a week-long strike that extracted a salary increase of about 13 percent.
Teachers formed picket lines outside schools across the city, joined by some sympathetic students:
Scene here at Juarez H.S. in #Pilsen #ShutDownChi #CTUStrike @DNAinfoCHI pic.twitter.com/AfZkV8cP9c
— Stephanie Lulay (@slulay2) April 1, 2016
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is one of the most financially troubled school districts in the country. It has a budget hole of almost $500 million, which is expected to grow due to rising pension costs. CPS recently had to sell $725 million in bonds at a ruinously high 8.5 percent interest rate just to have enough cash to finish the school year.
Rauner has proposed a recovery plan for CPS, which would replace the CPS school board with a new state-appointed one and allow the district to declare bankruptcy as a means of discharging some of its debts. The plan has been strongly opposed by Illinois Democrats and the CTU. They argue the district simply needs more state support without meddling from the governor’s office.
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