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The history of CPS and CTU battles

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_


After days of canceled classes, CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union reached a reopening agreement Monday night, and students are expected to return to classrooms Wednesday. 

But this was only the latest dispute between CPS and CTU, which have become more common in recent years.

About a decade ago, the progressive CORE caucus formed within the union, led by CTU leaders Karen Lewis, Jesse Sharkey, and Stacy Davis Gates, Chicago Sun-Times’ Nader Issa told City Cast.

And that was a turning point.

Because CTU wasn’t just pushing for bread-and-butter union issues like pay and health care benefits anymore, but bargaining for smaller class sizes and assistance for unhoused students, Issa said.

In 2012, during former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s tenure, the union striked for seven days over pay, teacher evaluations, and school closures, according to the Chicago Tribune. It was the union’s first strike in 25 years.

In 2016, the union’s one-day walkout was over salary increases.

In 2019, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s first year in office, CTU members were out for 11 days over fair compensation and benefits and more social workers, nurses, and other support staff.

Not a good start for Lighfoot and CTU’s relationship.

In 2021, the union and district avoided a strike and lockout by agreeing on more COVID-19 vaccinations for teachers and metrics for COVID-19–related school closures.

So what’s in the latest CPS–CTU reopening agreement? Not a lot of the union’s original demands. But the two agreed on new COVID-19 metrics for school shutdowns, more PPE, increased testing access, and more. 

🎧 Listen to Issa tell City Cast about the negotiations, and the union and Lightfoot’s complicated relationship.

👉 Read more about the reopening agreement.


▪️ A COVID-19 outbreak at the Cook County Jail has affected more than 850 detainees and staffers. [Block Club Chicago]

▪️ Lawsuit: Northwestern and the University of Chicago are among the colleges that allegedly colluded to limit financial aid. [The Daily Northwestern]

▪️Now that Bears coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace are officially out, the McCaskeys need to seriously renovate the team. [Midway Minute]

▪️ During this omicron surge, columnist Heidi Stevens reminds us to lean on each other. And it’s exactly what I — and you — needed to read. [Chicago Tribune]


Reader Caroline Patton said one of the city’s hidden gems was Shit Fountain in Ukrainian Village, and we couldn’t agree more.

👉 Read about how the installation was created to encourage people to pick up their dog poop 🤎

💌 What’re your hidden gems in the city? Tell us! Fill out this form, or reply directly to this email. You can also either call or text (773) 780-0246. 
A brown statue of poop is in a swirl with green leaves on it. It sits on a beige base that reads "SHIT FOUNTAIN."
Image by Carrie Shepherd


+ WEDNESDAY: Great Chicago Blood Drive downtown
Donate blood at Navy Pier Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

+ THURSDAY: Window painting in Ravenswood
Families can paint windows or doors at Sulzer Library Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

+ SATURDAY: Indoor plant workshop in Back of the Yards
Learn about proper lighting for growing at the Plant Saturday at 10 a.m.


Barbie is coming out with an Ida B. Wells doll as part of its “Inspiring Women Series,” an effort to spotlight influential women from other eras. 

The doll of the renowned Chicago civil rights activist and journalist wears a dark blue dress and has a copy of a Memphis Free Speech newspaper in her hands.

Wells’ doll joins Helen Keller and Rosa Parks in the Barbie series. [Black Enterprise]

👉 See the Light of Truth Ida B. Wells National Monument in Bronzeville.

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