Eighty-eight percent of the Chicago Teachers Union's membership has voted to authorize a strike - clearing the 75 percent approval threshold laid out in a state education law.
CTU held a three-day strike authorization vote last week and released the results Monday.
According to the union, nearly 92 percent of its 24,752 eligible members participated in the strike authorization vote. Of those who voted, 96.5 percent approved a strike. The earliest a strike could occur is March, according to CTU officials. If a walkout happens, it would be the second teachers strike in Chicago since 2012.
"Rahm Emanuel really does not need a teachers strike," CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey stated. "And what we're telling him is if he doesn't listen to us, that's what he'll get."
The union and cash-strapped school district remain at odds over a new labor contract to replace the one that expired June 30.
The strike authorization vote comes as CPS looks to Springfield for $480 million in pension relief for the school district. Some 5,000 teachers could be laid off by February if CPS does not get the financial help it is seeking, the district has warned.
Here's the full statement from Sharkey about the union's strike authorization vote:
Late last week Teachers, PSRPs, Clinicians--members of the CTU--voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. The actual result was just over 96% of those voting marked 'Yes' with a 92% turnout. Rahm, Forrest Claypool--Listen to what teachers and educators are trying to tell you: do not cut the schools anymore, do not make the layoffs that you have threatened; instead, respect educators and give us the tools we need to do our jobs. In particular:
(1) Improve the teaching and learning conditions by reducing standardized testing, eliminate time-sucking compliance paperwork, and restore professional respect and autonomy to teachers on matters like grades. These improvements cost nothing;
(2) Staff our schools at an adequate level. We deserve reasonable class sizes, instruction in art, music, science and technology, a library with a librarian, a nurse;
(3) and, Help our schools and our communities address the social crisis in large swaths of our city. While we do not expect the schools to fix homelessness, broken immigration policy, crisis-level unemployment, and racism, we must address the undeniable fact that these problems spill over into our schools and devastate the lives of our children. We have modest demands to address these problems--allow our counselors to counsel, approve restorative justice programs in targeted schools, help with translation and bilingual services.
Chicago Teachers Union members do not want to strike, but we do demand that you listen to us. Do not cut our schools, do not lay off educators or balance the budget on our backs.