05 Feb Solidarity With Chicago Teachers for Community Safety
- Chicago Teachers Union Fighting for Safety: CTU continues to push for safe reopening plans, and commitments to supporting the 80% of students who plan to remain remote even if schools reopen.
- Strike Possible Next Week: If the city reopens schools without negotiating on key safety parameters like accommodations for those with vulnerable household members, there may be a strike as early as next week. See below for updates and ways to support.
- UIC Budget Cuts Being Discussed: We have received confirmed reports that many units have been asked to plan contingencies for possible budget cuts this year. If you have information on these discussions occurring in your unit, please email us
- New Deal For Higher Ed: AFT, AAUP, and faculty from institutions across the country are beginning a push for A New Deal For Higher Education. Join the kickoff call next Wednesday, Feb 10, 1pm CST!
Even as a vaccine is being distributed, Chicago public school teachers are being pressured to return to as-yet unsafe school buildings–despite more than 80% of students, including the vast majority of students of color, saying they plan to remain remote. The Chicago Teachers Union is prepared to fight to reopen schools safely, and have put a safety strike on the table if the district locks-out teachers from their remote learning environments. The district and the Mayor have said they will reopen (and presumably lock teachers out if they don’t show in person) next Monday.
Make no mistake, this fight is our fight too. While most faculty have not experienced the same level of pressure to re-enter potentially unsafe in-person working environments, colleagues in some departments are working on campus, and our administration also has shown that they’re perfectly capable of acting on their own whims without waiting for faculty to weigh in. If this situation comes up closer to home, we will fight for our members’ rights to safety, and we hope our fellow unionists around the city and the state will support us. Please extend to our CTU teachers the same consideration you would want if you were in their shoes!
What is CTU Really Asking For?
CTU is asking the district to bargain over a safe return, and specifically have three major parameters that the district has yet to agree on:
- Accommodations for workers with vulnerable household members who may be seriously endangered if they’re forced to return to unsafe conditions
- A plan to vaccinate all workers in the CPS system who want it
- A phase-in approach aligned with vaccinations to ensure re-openings are done safely
They will be trying through the weekend to find a deal, but CPS claims they do not have to bargain on these issues, and has said they’ve made their final offer. If no deal is reached, and teachers are locked out of remote classrooms as a result of continuing remote work for the safety of their families and students, CTU members have authorized a strike action in response.
What You Can Do To Help:
CTU is asking for help on a number of fronts. You can act RIGHT NOW to support them by doing the following:
- Signing a letter to Governor Pritzker asking him to sign a bill restoring CTU’s right to bargain safety conditions. These rights were curtailed by unprecedented action at the state level by a prior legislature, though the bill didn’t touch other public unions.
- Donating to a strike fund supporting workers who have already been locked out and whose pay has not been restored.
- If you’re a CPS parent, share your story on why safety and a robust remote learning focus matters for you and your family.
- Watching for updates on Facebook and Twitter on strike actions if a lockout occurs.
Budget Contingency Plans Underway in Some Units
UICUF has received strong evidence that many units have been asked to prepare contingencies in the event that their budgets were to be cut on the order of 10-15%. Needless to say, this is concerning, and we are keeping our eye on the situation. If you have heard any discussion of possible cuts or plans to accommodate hypothetical cuts, please email us confidentially at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com ASAP so we can develop a clearer picture of the situation.
New Deal For Higher Education
On a brighter note, next week will mark the kickoff event for A New Deal For Higher Education, a campaign led by union activists and university faculty, including our affiliate organizations, AFT and AAUP, who are working to imagine and implement a new vision for higher education in the US at all levels of government and governance. We’re excited to participate, and invite you to join the conversation yourself!
UIC United Faculty
We hold regular office hours from 12-1pm Wednesday and Thursday each week. Use the following links to add them to your calendar:
Wednesday 12-1pm | Thursday 12-1pm
We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even SAFER place to work and learn!