Ten Years Ago, Chicago Teachers Gave Us All a Jolt of Hope

Alexandra Bradbury

Labor Notes | September 10, 2022

Chicago teachers marched in a mass rally on May 23, 2012, part of the ramp-up to their big strike that fall. Photo: Sarah Ji, loveandstrugglephotos.com.

On the tenth anniversary of the Chicago Teachers Union’s groundbreaking strike, we’re reissuing our award-winning book How to Jump-Start Your Union: Lessons from the Chicago Teachers. This is the new introduction.

If you feel like your union needs a jump-start—whether you’re a longtime shop steward or just started your first union job—this book is for you.

The impulse you have (“This union could be stronger and better, and I want to help change it”) makes you part of a long tradition—what we at Labor Notes affectionately call the trouble-making wing of the labor movement.

One basic principle unites us troublemakers. We believe democracy, meaning broad member participation at every level of the union, is the heart of union power.

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Chicago Health Care Workers on Strike for Safe Staffing, $15 Minimum, PPE

Lillian Osborne

Nurses and other health care workers are striking the University of Illinois at Chicago for safe staffing, a $15 minimum wage, and guarantees of personal protective equipment. Photo: Matt Hoffmann

On Friday a Cook County judge filed a partial injunction against nearly 5,500 health care workers preparing to strike the University of Illinois at Chicago’s hospital, clinics, and other campus divisions. The judge cited a “clear and present danger” to patients, reducing the number of union members who could participate in the strike.

But to members of the Illinois Nurses Association and Service Employees Local 73, the clear and present dangers at UIC are unsafe staffing levels, lack of protective equipment, and poverty wages, especially in the coronavirus pandemic.Read More »

Chicago teachers, support staff strike

by John Bachtell

People’s World | October 17, 2019

Chicago teachers, support staff strike
Teachers, parents, and community supporters march through downtown Chicago on Oct. 14. | John Bachtell / PW

CHICAGO—Thousands of teachers and support staff are on strike this morning, Oct. 17, after the city failed to reach an agreement with them. Despite ten months of bargaining, the sides remain far apart on restoring staffing levels decimated over the past few decades.

Chicago Public Schools yesterday announced the cancellation of classes for today.

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has joined in solidarity with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73 vowing to create quality schools and parks for all. SEIU represents about 80% of Park District employees, school custodians, special education aides, and security guards. Without an agreement, the unions, representing over 30,000 workers, have gone out on strike together.

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Resisters fight for $15 at Illinois state capital


People’s World | April 28, 2017

Resisters fight for $15 at Illinois state capitalEarchiel Johnson/PW

SPRINGFIELD, Il. – On Tuesday, hundreds of people gathered for a rally at the state capital to lobby the Illinois House of Representatives to raise the minimum wage to $15. The action was led by a multi-generational coalition consisting of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Illinois Alliance of Retired Americans(IL-ARA), Steel Workers Organizing Active Retirees, Nabisco 600 and many others.

Raising the minimum wage would impact the wages of a diverse swath of industries including fast food and home care workers.  In Chicago, the current minimum wage is $10.50 and will steadily increase until 2019 until it reaches $13 an hour. However, the rest of the state’s workers labor under a minimum wage of only $8.25 an hour.Read More »

Thousands Rally for Chicago Teachers as Banks vs. Schools Battle Rages

“We need the political leadership of the city to know that schools can’t keep being the last priority.”

by Nadia Prupis, staff writer

Common Dreams | 5 February, 2016

Thousands gathered in Chicago on Thursday to support the city’s teachers union and rally against the massive budget cuts proposed earlier this week by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS).Read More »