A group of Chicago parents have filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Teachers Union, calling this week’s school closures an “illegal strike” and demanding that teachers return to school for in-person learning. The lawsuit was filed late Thursday by attorneys at the Liberty Justice Center, a national nonprofit law firm that fights for students’ educational rights.
More than 300,000 students were locked out of Chicago Public Schools starting Wednesday after unionized teachers refused to teach in-person. Not only is the strike illegal under Illinois law, it also violates the union’s own contract.
“CTU’s resolution calling members to not show up for work in-person is a strike regardless of what CTU calls it and violates both the collective bargaining agreement with CPS and Illinois law,” said Jeffrey Schwab, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. “CTU cannot unilaterally decide what actions should be taken to keep public schools safe, completely silencing parents’ input about what is best for the health, safety, and well-being of their children.”
Teachers were among the first in Illinois eligible to receive vaccination for COVID-19 in January 2021. Similarly, teachers were among the first in line to receive booster shots in September 2021. According to CPS, more than 90 percent of staff are fully vaccinated. All teachers and students are masked during the school day, and teachers and students are regularly tested for COVID-19.
“Throughout this entire pandemic, our kids have paid a tremendous price for adults’ mistakes and miscalculations, and now the teachers’ union has hastily and recklessly put them on their political roller coaster again,” said Laurel Golden, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit and a CPS parent. “The science is clear, and so is the desire of parents: Our kids need and deserve to be in school. This illegal strike must be ended immediately, and we must get kids back into the classroom.”
Attorneys for the Chicago parents have asked the judge for an emergency hearing on Friday so that a judge can order the teachers back to the classroom.
Golden v. Chicago Teachers Union, was filed on Jan. 7, 2022, in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois County Department, Chancery Division.