Chicago Teachers Union votes to refuse in-person work, defy Chicago Public Schools’ reopening plan

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Educators teach outside DeWitt Clinton Elementary School in the West Rogers Park neighborhood to protest Chicago Public Schools’ reopening plan due to COVID-19 safety concerns, Thursday morning, Jan. 21, 2021.
Educators teach outside DeWitt Clinton Elementary School in the West Rogers Park neighborhood to protest Chicago Public Schools’ reopening plan due to COVID-19 safety concerns, Thursday morning, Jan. 21, 2021. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

About 86% of the 25,000 rank-and-file CTU members voted on the resolution to stay home from schools, and 71% of those members approved the collective action.

Chicago Teachers Union members have voted to defy Chicago Public Schools’ reopening plans and continue working from home Monday because of health and safety concerns, a source told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The collective refusal of in-person work, which city officials have said they will view as a strike, marks the culmination of a months-long fight between the union and the nation’s third-largest school system over how and when to reopen schools during the pandemic.

About 86% of the 25,000 rank-and-file CTU members voted on the resolution to stay home from schools, and 71% of those members approved the collective action, the union wrote in an email to teachers and staff. That means 61% of membership approved the labor action.

“So what does this mean? It means the overwhelming majority of you have chosen safety,” the union wrote. “CPS did everything possible to divide us by instilling fear though threats of retaliation, but you still chose unity, solidarity and to collectively act as one.”

It remains unclear if CPS will cancel all classes moving forward. When asked on Friday if the union’s walkout would mean even remote learning would come to a halt, CPS CEO Janice Jackson said, “I think my point was clear that if the union refuses to work on Monday, that constitutes a strike.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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January 24, 2021 at 12:14PM

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