“This is not a moment. Brothers and sisters, this is a movement!”—Karen Lewis, president, Chicago Teachers Union
When Chicago teachers went on their one-day strike Friday, April 1, we saw something new in Chicago.
New at least for our generation.
A strike led by a union which was joined by thousands of supporters — other unions bringing out their members, community organizations, working families and their retirees and their un- and under-employed, college students, and, since the strike was by a teachers union, parents, students and their families.
It was truly massive — not just for the outpouring into the streets after the Thompson Center rally, but also because there were neighborhood actions throughout the city all day, by CTU members but also by up to 50 community groups.
All photos: Considered Sources, Creative Commons CC-BY
A political strike
This represents something new also because the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) was striking not just for workplace economic demands; this was a political strike, with political demands that were in the interest of all working families. One of the printed union picket signs read,“Fight for Funding Shut It Down April 1 2016 ON STRIKE Tax the Rich to Fund the Schools.” Another read, “Fight for Funding SHUT DOWN WALL STREET.” The CTU has long called for funding the schools and social needs through a millionaire’s tax, a tax on financial transactions, and a progressive state income tax (Illinois has a flat tax which benefits the wealthy by disproportionately taxing the rest of us).
Social Justice Unionism
The union makes not only economic demands; it advances broad social justice program. The union has a website A Just Chicago, whose slogan is, “Fighting for the City our Students Deserve.” It not only details school problems but also focuses on racism. (more…)