The Caucus of Working Educators (WE), part of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, stands in solidarity with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and SEIU Local 73, who have set a strike date of October 17. More than ninety-four percent of each union’s members voted to authorize the joint strike, showing that City workers stand unified in the struggle for fully staffed schools, smaller class sizes, along with better pay and benefits.
At the bargaining table, Chicago educators have asked for:
- hard class size limits
- hiring social workers, counselors, nurses, and other clinicians to meet nationally-recommended ratios
- hiring a librarian and restorative justice coordinator for every school
- hiring 1,000 needed teaching assistants
- measures to achieve equity and fairness for paraprofessionals.
SEIU Local 73 represents 7,000 custodians, bus aides, security officers and special education classroom assistants. A combined work stoppage with CTU’s 25,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, and clinicians would constitute a total shutdown of Chicago Public Schools. Chicago Park District workers, many of whom offered children’s programming during the 2012 CTU strike, have also voted to strike concurrently with the educators.
Philadelphia educators understand Chicago’s calls for adequate staffing and class sizes. Our schools, too, are desperately short of nurses, social workers, counselors and librarians. The School District of Philadelphia employs more police than it does counselors, and we have just seven librarians to service the District’s 214 schools.
We respect and admire Chicago educators for taking a stand for equity and justice in their classrooms and beyond. CTU members are also demanding that the school district respond to issues affecting the community at large, including:
- expanding affordable housing
- designating school buildings as a sanctuary for undocumented people
- establishing more Sustainable Community Schools equipped with full wraparound services.
Philly educators stand behind CTU and SEIU Local 73 in their fight for the common good and the schools all students deserve. Solidarity!