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Bipartisan Rage Unfurls Against Chicago Teachers Union As Educators Demand Return to Online Education

— January 7, 2022

While the city’s Democratic mayor has demanded that educators return to the bargaining table, a conservative legal group filed a lawsuit accusing the Chicago Teachers Union of conducting an “illegal strike.”

Chicago parents have filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Teachers Union, claiming that recent school closures are the result of an “illegal strike.”

According to FOX News, the lawsuit was filed by the conservative Liberty Justice Center on Thursday.

The Center’s lawsuit, says FOX, seeks to force teachers back into the classroom.

However, many Chicago educators are reluctant to continue in-person education amidst an ongoing surge in active coronavirus cases. In response to this surge, the Chicago Teachers Union voted to move classes online.

But the move has faced steep opposition from Chicago Democrats: Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called any return to remote instruction “unacceptable and unnecessary.”

In response to the Teachers Union’s vote, Lightfoot instructed Chicago Public Schools to cancel classes altogether rather than force students back to home-schooling.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Image via Flickr/user:Prachatai. (CCA-BY-2.0).

“Nobody signs up for being a home-schooler at the last minute,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “We can’t forget how disruptive that remote process is to individual parents who have to work, who can’t afford the luxury of staying home.”

Lightfoot has since accused the Chicago Teachers Union of engaging in an illegal work stoppage.

Similarly, the Liberty Justice Center’s complaint suggests that, not only is the Chicago Teachers Union’s decision unjustified but constitutes an unlawful strike—unlawful in relation to not only Illinois state law, but the CTU’s own internal protocol.

“Because CTU members refused to teach under the conditions set forth by CPS—in-person instruction—CTU members are, by definition, engaged in a strike,” the lawsuit states.

A recent tweet posted by the Chicago Teachers Union indicates that in-person education will resume only when coronavirus cases “substantially subside” or when the city signs an agreement on “conditions of return.”

However, the Liberty Justice Center says that the Chicago Teachers Union does not even meet the standard of “striking.” In their complaint, Center attorneys observe that 73% of Chicago Teachers Union members voted to suspend in-person education—just short of the “three-fourths required to authorize a strike.”

While the Liberty Justice Center’s interpretation of remote learning as a “strike” is very much open to interpretation, the organization’s attorneys say Chicago has no good, legal choice but to send its children back to school.

“CTU’s resolution calling members not to show up for work in-person is a strike regardless of what CTU calls it and violates both the collective bargaining agreement with [Chicago Public Schools] and Illinois law,” Liberty Justice Center senior attorney Jeffrey Schwab said in a statement. “CTU cannot unilaterally decide what actions should be taken to keep schools safe, completely silencing parents’ input about what is best for the health, safety, and well-being of their children.”

FOX32Chicago’s suggests that the Teachers Union’s decision has faced resistance from the city’s overwhelmingly liberal leadership: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has encouraged the union to return to the negotiating table, while other city officials say local schools already have sufficient coronavirus-control protocols to ensure the safety of students and teachers alike.


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