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CPS Sues Chicago Teachers Union, Says They Should Pay Costs Of Strike

By Sam Cholke | April 1, 2016 3:28pm | Updated on April 5, 2016 10:01am
Downtown teacher picket photos
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WOODLAWN — Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool is calling for the Chicago Teachers Union to pay the costs of Friday's strike and has sued the union to ensure that they "never again" engage in a so-called "unlawful" strike.

At an afternoon press conference at Fiske Elementary School, 6020 S. Langley Ave., Claypool said CPS had filed a complaint with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board asking it to prevent future strikes under similar circumstances and to get the union to pay CPS for the costs of Friday's strike.

RELATED: Why Are Chicago Teachers Striking Today? 5 Reasons

"Lawbreaking cannot go unchecked, there has to be accountability for blatantly breaking the law," Claypool said.

 CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said Friday the district was asking the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board to make the Chicago Teachers Union pay the costs of Friday's strike.
CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said Friday the district was asking the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board to make the Chicago Teachers Union pay the costs of Friday's strike.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

He said CPS had not yet calculated the cost of the strike, but teachers were not paid while on strike on Friday. He said CPS was also asking the labor relations board to pay for all of CPS' legal costs.

"There is zero chance we can lose because the law is crystal clear," Claypool. said.

The teachers union fired back saying the law was clearly on its side.

“The U.S. Supreme Court 60 years ago authorized unfair labor practice strikes under the National Labor Relations Action and we believe teachers have those rights," said CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin. "This was a one day job action. Their charges were filed after the fact and they seek to enjoin us from doing something we have no intention of doing again. We call on CPS to join us in fighting for more revenue for schools.”

Claypool’s comments came as rallies moved to City Hall after teachers swarmed schools across the city. Teachers were expected to be joined by other unions and protesters for a rally at the Thompson Center at 4 p.m. followed by a march through Downtown.

Though Claypool had called the action illegal earlier in the week, CPS did not pursue any legal action against the union with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board or in state court until Friday. 

State law allows for a strike if the union’s negotiations with CPS reach an impasse, but CPS’ attorneys have argued that law does not directly address the situation leading up to Friday’s strike.

"The best course of action is an injunction to ensure that the CTU never again engages in an unlawful strike and the children, parents and teachers are never in this precarious position again," the CPS complaint states.

The union is claiming the strike is legal based on a court decision that allows public-sector unions to strike if CPS has engaged in an unfair labor practice. The union claims CPS’ decision to end giving raises based on experience and education is a violation of the contract that expired June 30.

The state labor relations board is still considering a complaint by the union on the end of the raises.

Gov. Bruce Rauner continued on Friday to call the strike illegal.

“Walking out on kids in the classroom, leaving parents in the lurch and thumbing their nose at taxpayers — it's the height of arrogance from those we’ve entrusted with our children’s futures,” Rauner said. “By breaking the law in Chicago and forcing passage of a bad law in Springfield, powerful bosses are proving they have an unfair advantage over Illinois families.  When we lose the balance between taxpayers and special interests, property taxes go up and the quality of education goes down.”

Union officials fired back, saying Rauner was "suffocating the life out of the state," and that the strike is legal based on the outstanding complaints the union has against CPS.

“Since Rauner has been in office he has failed to govern," CTU President Karen Lewis said in a statement. "Instead he has come in like the venture capitalist he is to slash budgets, restrict funding for critical social services, destroy Chicago’s school district—along with Chicago State University, and hold every citizen of our state hostage to his failed turnaround agenda. Simply put, he is bad for Illinois."