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Charter school strike in Chicago ends with workers’ victory

By staff

Chicago Teachers Union CICS strike captain Jamal Barnes fires up union strikers.

Chicago, IL – Solidarity matters. Teachers and paraprofessionals at the Chicago International Charter Schools hit the picket lines at 6:00 a.m. on February 5 and stayed out until they had won what they needed at 3:15 a.m. on February 17. What they need was smaller class sizes for their students, adequate staffing for special education students, maternity leave for educators and a wage scale close enough to the Chicago Public School teachers to bring some measure of stability to the classroom.

They won these things by sticking together. The cold nasty weather did not deter the strikers. They kept in communication with parents. When management offered them adequate pay if they would allow them to sellout their students by reducing needed social workers and councilors, the bargaining team said, “No!”

Union members will be voting on the proposals which include pay raises of around 35% over the life of the four year agreement. Paraprofessionals fought for and won union recognition for the first time. Not willing to scab on their coworkers, they went out on strike with the teachers. Parents and students overwhelmingly honored the picket line.

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