From Portside <[email protected]>
Subject Elizabeth Warren Says Make the Rich Pay for Striking Chicago Teachers’ Demands
Date October 23, 2019 2:58 AM
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[“I’m here to stand with every one of the people who stand for
our children every day.” Elizabeth Warren told the strikers. So far,
no 2020 candidate has publicly expressed support for Mayor Lightfoot
in the labor dispute. ] [[link removed]]

ELIZABETH WARREN SAYS MAKE THE RICH PAY FOR STRIKING CHICAGO
TEACHERS’ DEMANDS  
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Jeff Schuhrke
October 22, 2019
Jeff Schuhrke
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_ “I’m here to stand with every one of the people who stand for
our children every day.” Elizabeth Warren told the strikers. So far,
no 2020 candidate has publicly expressed support for Mayor Lightfoot
in the labor dispute. _

Elizabeth Warren gave Chicago teachers a big boost in their fight
against Mayor Lori Lightfoot., Scott Olson/Getty Images

 

Chicago public school teachers and support staff—on strike since
October 17 for smaller class sizes and improved services for
students—received a boost Tuesday when they were joined on the
picket lines by Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren.

The Massachusetts senator joined strikers with the Chicago Teachers
Union (CTU) and SEIU Local 73 outside Oscar DePriest Elementary in the
Austin neighborhood on the city’s West Side. “The CTU and SEIU are
out on strike for our children. They’re out on strike for working
people everywhere,” Warren, who was once a public school teacher
herself, told reporters. “I’m here to stand with every one of the
people who stand for our children every day.”

Warren’s visit comes as talks between the unions and the city appear
to have broken down. On Monday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot wrote an open
letter
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to CTU president Jesse Sharkey, calling on the union to end the strike
without a contract as negotiations continue—essentially telling the
teachers to surrender their only leverage at the bargaining table.

“We are likely not going to see a quick settlement to the ongoing
strike,” Sharkey said
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at a press conference after receiving the mayor’s letter. “I came
in today with raised expectations and hope, but the letter I received
today dashed my hope for a quick settlement.”

At the same time, 7,500 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) support staff
with SEIU Local 73—who have also been on strike since October
17—had their first bargaining session with the city since the work
stoppage began on Monday. These workers include custodians, bus aides,
special education classroom assistants, and security guards making
less than $35,000
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a year. The bargaining session lasted only 12 minutes
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before city negotiators walked away without bringing forward any new
proposals, according to SEIU Local 73.

On the campaign trail earlier this year, Lightfoot promised
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that as mayor she would “provide each school with basic educational
support positions like librarians, nurses and social workers.” As
the CTU demands she make good on this promise in contract
negotiations, Lightfoot now says
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“there is no more money.”

Meanwhile, the city recently approved a $1.6 billion
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public subsidy to private developer Sterling Bay for a new commercial
development in the wealthy Lincoln Park neighborhood and is also
moving forward with plans to build a new $95 million
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police academy. The city also recently approved a $33 million
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plan to put more police officers in public schools.

“We need to ask those at the very top to pitch in a little more so
that we can actually make the investments in every single child in
this country,” Warren said at the rally.

Warren’s visit follows that of fellow Democratic presidential
candidate Bernie Sanders, who came to Chicago
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last month to lead a solidarity rally with CTU members as they voted
to authorize the strike. At that rally, Sanders said, “For the last
45 years there has been a war in this country by the corporate elite
against the working class of our nation. The only way to win
prosperity for working people is when we significantly increase
membership in trade unions all across America.” 

Several other Democratic contenders have shown solidarity with the CTU
and SEIU Local 73, including Kamala Harris
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Julián Castro
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and Joe Biden
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met with
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striking teachers last Friday.

So far, no 2020 candidate has publicly expressed support for Mayor
Lightfoot in the labor dispute, while more Chicagoans approve of the
strike
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than oppose it. Meanwhile, several of Chicago’s progressive
politicians have sided with the unions, including the six democratic
socialists on the City Council.

“CPS teachers and staff are giving their all out on the picket lines
to fight for justice in our schools, so we have to give them our all
in support,” said Alderwoman Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez, a member of
Chicago Democratic Socialists of America who was elected earlier this
year.

Rodriguez-Sanchez and the city’s other socialist alderpeople have
been working with Chicago DSA and Chicago Jobs with Justice to serve
thousands of free meals to CPS students and strikers through “Bread
for Ed,” a solidarity initiative that raised over $30,000
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for food in one week.

“This strike is about winning public schools that serve Chicago
students’ and parents’ needs, and a Chicago that's for the working
class—not the rich and powerful,” explained Will Bloom, Chicago
DSA secretary.

“Everyone in America should support you in this strike,” Warren
told the CTU and SEIU picketers. “You don’t just fight for
yourselves, you fight for the children of this city and the children
of this country.”

JEFF SCHUHRKE is a Working In These Times contributor based in
Chicago. He has a Master's in Labor Studies from UMass Amherst and is
currently pursuing a Ph.D. in labor history at the University of
Illinois at Chicago. He was a summer 2013 editorial intern at _In
These Times_. Follow him on Twitter: @JeffSchuhrke.

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