Although an “agreement in principle” was reached with striking Chicago teachers, educators and their supporters gathered in Union Park on the Near West Side Saturday for what they called a “Wisconsin-style rally,” bringing attention to so-called assaults on unions.
Thousands of teachers, social workers and other CPS staff then marched down Washington Boulevard to Garfield Park.
While the strike seems to be nearing an end, they rallied with a message.
“Teachers united, will never be divided,” was among the main message chanted at Saturday’s event.
The teachers were joined by parents, students and other unionized workers across the Midwest.
“Although I teach in another district, my tax dollars go to support Chicago schools,” said Tara Pollack, an English teacher at Evanston Township High School said. “I support the teachers 100 percent.
Some Milwaukee teachers say CTU stood with them at the Wisconsin Capitol during Gov. Scott Walker‘s battle with public unions.
“They’re fighting the tough fight, and they need to know that other people are out there and supporting them,” said Milwaukee teacher Heidi Bukowski.
The rally featured several high profiled figures, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. and CTU president, Karen Lewis.
“Support the teachers, save the children and keep hope alive,” Jackson Sr. said to the cheering crowd. “This is a not just a struggle for teachers, but for people everywhere.”
CTU is hoping to have the contract language worked out by Sunday so it can present a final package to its house of delegates. If all goes according to plan, that body could vote to suspend the strike.
With a framework in place, both parties continued talks Saturday morning to outline specifics, while many parents are hoping that enough progress is made to get kids back in the classroom on Monday.
“I’m here to show support for my sister (a CPS teacher), to show that unions are strong,” said Sandra Mendoza, a supporter.
Mendoza said she’s personally witnessed how deplorable some Chicago schools are.
“I’ve seen my own daughter go to a school without air-conditioning,” Mendoza said. “I’ve seen firsthand how my sister goes to work before school starts, she stays late and brings her work home with her.”
Both CTU and the school board have an agreement. The only thing that is left is the language, and if CTU’s House of Delegates approves it on Sunday, classes will be back in session on Monday.