Progress Illinois provides coverage of the massive rally and march staged Friday by the Chicago Teachers Union and its allies.
Thousands of Chicago Teachers Union members and their allies took to the city's downtown streets Friday evening to protest for increased school funding and against "unfair labor practices."
The union is specifically pushing for progressive revenues to help boost funding for schools and social services.
After a day of actions held across Chicago by teachers and their supporters, a massive crowd descended upon the Thompson Center for a 4 p.m. rally.
There, CTU President Karen Lewis slammed Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who earlier in the day called today's teacher walkout "shameful" because "children are the victims in this raw display of political power."
"We are outside the state of Illinois building. Why? Because the governor of this state has decided to hold everybody hostage," Lewis told the crowd. "He's a terrorist. And he calls me names.
"Rauner can't stop us," Lewis added. "And Rauner's not stopping any of us. He keeps saying crazy things like teachers can't hold the taxpayers hostage. Does he not know we're taxpayers too?"
After the hourlong rally, the crowd began to march through downtown, eventually ending up in Grant Park. People chanted "Recall Rauner!" and "Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Rahm Emanuel's got to go!"
Most people left the protest when marchers got to Grant Park. A few hundred people stayed behind and continued to march on the sidewalk along Lake Shore Drive. The group briefly went onto the drive before police forced them off.
Check out video from today's rally and march, including comments from Lewis:
Several politicians attended CTU's rally, including Chicago Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th).
"In my community on the Northwest Side, here at the Thompson Center, there's been so much energy, so much solidarity, so much togetherness among Chicagoans from all backgrounds that are saying, 'It's time to fund our public schools. It's time to tax the rich,'" Ramirez-Rosa told Progress Illinois. "Rahm and Rauner are part of the problem, and we need a solution, and the solution is asking Ken Griffin, the billionaire pal of Bruce Rauner and Rahm Emanuel to pay his fair share."
Ramirez-Rosa is hoping the Emanuel administration will agree to free up additional tax increment financing (TIF) funds and allocate the money to the cash-strapped school district.
"A number of aldermen came together and said that we need to use every single dollar from the TIF fund that we can to support our public schools," Ramirez-Rosa said. "It's time for the mayor to act."
For its part, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) maintains that today's one-day strike was illegal. It filed a complaint against CTU Friday with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board seeking a "permanent, preemptive injunction." The complaint is aimed at preventing future strikes like the one held today.
Friday's one-day walkout came in the midst of contract negotiations between CTU and the school district. CTU members are unhappy with CPS' cancellation of "step and lane" raises and the possible loss of the 7 percent teacher pension pickup, a move teachers say amounts to a pay cut.
Among those at today's demonstration was Oscar Newman, a science and algebra teacher at Chicago Academy Elementary School, 3400 N. Austin Ave. He pushed back on the district's claims of the strike being illegal.
"You can have a strike for unfair labor practices. We've been working without a contract for quite some time now, and so the lanes and steps that should have been received are not," he said. "I would also say, for all of the arguments about what will happen to the children, and this is a travesty, ... the same thing could have been said for March 25, when they had a furlough day, and the kids were OK ... I don't think that's a very effective argument."
Newman also had a message for the governor, who is trying to use the state budgeting process to win items on his pro-business, anti-union policy agenda. That agenda is at the center of the state's budget impasse, now entering its tenth month. The Illinois budget impasse has meant zero funding for higher education institutions and low-income college students who depend on the state's tuition assistance program.
"Education matters, and he needs to consider what his legacy will be as governor," Newman said. "Public education is really in trouble in our state. I'm saddened with what's happening to Chicago State University. When we inform our students that college is the future, and this is what they should be striving for, I hope a better future for them than what's happening now ... The brinksmanship can stop now with Governor Rauner."