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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Tribune: Bernie Sanders, John Cusack rally with Chicago teachers as strike vote begins

As it was noted the luminaries spoke at a Chicago's Teacher's Union rally I must have misunderstood something:
The 25,000-member CTU embarked Tuesday on a three-day strike vote, which, if the measure passes, will empower the union’s House of Delegates to set a walkout date as early as Oct. 7. SEIU Local 73, the union for the 7,000 support employees, has already authorized a strike, which could occur as soon as Oct. 17.
Meanwhile, here's what happened as strike voting started:
The Chicago Teachers Union brought some celebrity backing to its push for a new contract Tuesday evening, with actor John Cusack rallying with teachers before the evening’s headliner — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders — called for big raises for local public school educators.

“There has never been a better champion for unions than Bernie Sanders,” Cusack said to cheers from a throng of teachers and other local labor group members gathered at headquarters of the CTU on the first day of its vote to authorize a teachers strike.

When the Vermont senator later took the stage, he thanked the teachers union for “becoming the conscience of the United States of America."

“What we are seeing is teachers standing up and fighting for justice," Sanders said. “... Every problem in society — hunger, domestic violence, poverty — it walks into your doors, doesn’t it? You see it every day and at a time when we, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on earth.
Sanders underscored some of the CTU’s specific demands, calling on the city to “negotiate a contract that substantially reduces class sizes” and to “substantially increase the pay and benefits for the teachers in Chicago and the support staff in Chicago,” as well as address the shortages of nurses and librarians.

Earlier at the rally, CTU President Jesse Sharkey called out Mayor Lori Lightfoot, saying she hasn’t offered staffing levels that would ensure librarians, nurses or social workers in schools on a daily basis.

But again Tuesday, the mayor pointed to a city proposal that offers teachers base pay raises of 16% over five years. She also said new positions being sought by the union are “baked ... into the budget for this year.”

At the rally, Sanders also spoke of working people not being able to afford child care and plugged his proposal for free college tuition. After he said, “Let me tell you something else that we’re going to do,” an audience member called out, “Beat Trump!” At that, Sanders laughed while those in the crowd cheered and rose to their feet.
Sanders had already shone a spotlight on the labor strife in Chicago Public Schools, tweeting his support earlier this month for the CTU and another group of workers also poised for a possible walkout, including bus and special education aides, custodians and security officers. Leading up to Sanders’ Chicago appearance, two other presidential contenders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden, made similar statements of support for Chicago educators.

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