The following article by Lexi Lonas appeared January 7, 2022 on thehill.com.
A group of Chicago parents is suing the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) after teachers refused to return to in-person instruction due to COVID-19 concerns and school officials canceled classes entirely.
Attorneys at the Liberty Justice Center, representing a group of Chicago parents, filed a lawsuit Thursday night to end the union’s “illegal strike.”
Seventy-three percent of teachers in the union voted on Tuesday not to return to the classroom, alleging the city has not done enough to ensure they are protected against the coronavirus as cases spike in the state.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) on Wednesday countered that the city spent $100 million to make it safe to return to classrooms in the city that has 350,000 students in the public schools.
“CTU’s resolution calling members to not show up for work in-person is a strike regardless of what CTU calls it and violates both the collective bargaining agreement with CPS and Illinois law,” Jeffrey Schwab, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, said.
“CTU cannot unilaterally decide what actions should be taken to keep public schools safe, completely silencing parents’ input about what is best for the health, safety, and well-being of their children,” he added.
The lawsuit asks for teachers to be forced back into the classroom as the city and union are struggling to reach an agreement.
“What we want is for Chicago Teachers Union leadership to come to the table in good faith, stop moving the goalposts and forge an agreement,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot and the union have filed complaints with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. The mayor argues the strike is illegal and the union says there needs to be more remote learning due to COVID-19.
The Hill has reached out to the union for comment.