The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Chicago Unions Set a Strike Date

Oct 14, 2019

The Chicago Teachers’ Union, along with the union for school staff and Parks District workers, have all set the same strike date: Thursday, October 17th.

Chicago’s new Mayor, Lori Lightfoot, has been waving modest raises in front of teachers—3% a year for five years—almost enough to keep up with inflation. The teachers’ union is legally limited to bargaining and potentially striking over only a few issues, such as pay, and they cannot legally strike over things like class size and staffing.

But teachers have long been saying there are other problems: having a nurse on duty at every school full-time, a librarian in every school, a case manager for Special Education services, and smaller class sizes.

The Service Employees Union Local 73, which represents 7,000 security guards, classroom aides, and custodians, waited a full year in negotiations in order to line up a strike date with the teachers’ union. Moreover, Service Employees Local 73 also represents the Chicago Park District workers, who have set the same strike date as the teachers and the school staff workers.

Certainly what’s needed is a coordinated strike by the workers in all three unions, one which could engage a broader layer of the city’s working class, beyond just one group. But that depends on the teachers, other school workers, and parks workers themselves.