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Both teachers’ unions threaten “health and safety strikes”

Wednesday, Jul 29, 2020

* Press release…

The following is a joint statement from Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin and Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery:

“Together, the Illinois Education Association and Illinois Federation of Teachers represent 238,000 employees in public and private schools, colleges and universities in the state of Illinois and in doing so we protect the safety of more than 2.5 million students. We believe that some types of in-person instruction can be achieved with health and safety mitigation in any individual community, but absent a practical safety plan that includes a clear line of responsibility and enforcement, we call for the 2020-21 school year to begin with remote learning.

We are working to ensure that any district providing in-person instruction in Illinois is prepared and able to abide by the safety measures outlined by the state, the federal government, and medical professionals. If those measures are not met, we will do everything we can to protect our students and those who care for them – teachers and professors, bus drivers, classroom aides, secretaries, building janitors and everyone in between. No avenue or action is off the table – the courts, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board - nothing, including health and safety strikes. The entire weight of the IEA and the IFT will be used in whatever way is necessary to protect the students and the staff who educate them.

If a return-to-learning plan is not safe, we will act. Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. Unions were founded on workplace safety. The COVID-19 pandemic brings us back to our roots. This is the power of belonging to a union – to be able to collectively stand to protect those who need it – employees, students and their families. We especially need to protect those students who live in communities where health care is lacking, non-existent or unaffordable. We are in this together and we are in this to keep everyone healthy, safe and learning.

Since this pandemic began, our members have risen to the occasion. We rebuilt the public education system in a week. We delivered food and schoolwork, dove headfirst into remote learning, and did our best to provide normalcy and emotional support for our students. We miss them. We want to see them more than anything, but we want to do it safely.

For districts who have worked cooperatively with local union leadership, with the community and have successfully abided by all safety measures outlined in official guidance or made the decision to begin the academic year remotely, we commend and thank you.

We know we are stronger when we are united.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

54 Comments »
  1. - 44th - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 1:53 pm:

    Between threatened teacher strikes, the sports order and my son broke his finger last night its one of those days. Time to turn the internet off.


  2. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 1:53 pm:

    Chicago Area Catholic schools are free from the influence of the unions. Many have plans for
    in-person instruction with detailed health and safety guidelines.


  3. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 1:55 pm:

    === Chicago Area Catholic schools are free from the influence of the unions. Many have plans for in-person instruction with detailed health and safety guidelines.===

    That’s doesn’t sound very “pro-life”

    “Teach and maybe get infected or worse… or… “

    Hmm.


  4. - JB13 - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 2:02 pm:

    Well, OK, but if we’re going to demand “essential worker” teachers earn full pay and benefits while sitting at home, can we at least demand all teachers work every day this fall? Or at least more than 55% of elementary teachers who bothered to log on at least 3 days a week last spring?

    https://chicago.chalkbeat.org/platform/amp/2020/7/23/21336564/black-and-latino-students-were-more-likely-to-receive-incompletes-during-pandemic?__twitter_impression=true


  5. - Hamlet's Ghost - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 2:06 pm:

    == Chicago Area Catholic schools are free from the influence of the unions. Many have plans for in-person instruction with detailed health and safety guidelines. ==

    Only time will tell if those health and safety guidelines are adequate. Maybe. Or maybe not.


  6. - 1st Ward - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 2:20 pm:

    “can we at least demand all teachers work every day this fall?”

    What’s the contract say?


  7. - Shytown - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 2:21 pm:

    The teachers unions never miss an opportunity to let a crisis go to waste that benefits themselves.


  8. - Lt Guv - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 2:26 pm:

    “can we at least demand all teachers work every day this fall?”

    I don’t know, but I was doing my student teaching toward a 3rd career in the spring. Can’t speak to what others did but I worked every day before the lockdown and I worked every day online after the lockdown. If a district didn’t require that they need to change their modality for the fall as kids need to be engaged to learn. While I fully agree that having only online learning is not optimal, well, we’re not living in anything close to an optimal time.


  9. - Nagidam - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 2:26 pm:

    When do essential food workers go on a safety strike? Can you imagine the worn out healthcare workers going on strike. Hey police and fire are you guys next? Yes I think teachers are essential workers. Quite frankly I couldn’t be a teacher. Nothing will be good enough for the union leadership to go back to school. No plan.
    And the governor is taking the heat as the fall guy. Fine. I suppose we will see what happens this fall. We will have data in the end from schools that taught in school and schools that e-learned.


  10. - ChuckIL - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 2:33 pm:

    Teachers would much rather be in school teaching than conducting online lessons. It’s more familiar, and frankly, more effective. It’s just not safe. Not safe for them, the staff, the kids, the families of the kids, the community…


  11. - Bobby Hill - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 2:36 pm:

    Sounds like a nothing-burger to me.


  12. - Ashland Adam - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 2:38 pm:

    To JB13’s post -

    Many CPS teachers, being resourceful and committed, used digital platforms other than what CPS provided to reach their students. The article JB13 references states 55% of CPS elementary students did not log onto the district’s Google digital learning platform. It doesn’t say they didn’t log on, but that they didn’t use CPS’s system. And there’s a reason for that.

    Fact is - like so much with CPS - the shortchanging of investment in technology and infrastructure resulted in a system that didn’t work. Teachers found a way to reach their students, including calling parents’ individual cell phones, and setting up FaceTime meetings with students, as these were the only digital devices in the house.

    Additionally, roughly 85% of CPS students live at or below the poverty level. Please don’t assume that these students or their families were online and ready to go.

    So between the CPS system that was barely functioning, and the impoverished families living through a crisis - the crisis exasperating existing societal inequities - don’t blame the teachers.


  13. - Ed Equity - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 2:45 pm:

    While it is reasonable to want precautions to be taken, it is important to understand that there is a national, unified front being advanced by teachers unions asking that schools not reopen until the following demands are met:
    School are free from police officers
    All schools have counselors, nurses and community/parent outreach workers
    Rents and mortgages are cancelled, there is a moratorium on evictions/foreclosures
    The poor are provided direct cash assistance to those not able to work or who are unemployed
    A moratorium on kids being able to opt of the public school system through charter schools or funds for low income kids to access indepentd schools
    An end to standardized testing
    A massive infusion of federal money to support the reopening of schools
    Taxing billionaires and Wall Street
    These demands and the teachers unions that represnt them can be found at demandsafeschools.org/demands.

    The children of Illinois don’t deserve to get caught up in the non-education politics of the teachers unions.

    If you think this is made up, their multi teacher union coalition is at this website. https://www.demandsafeschools.org/about/


  14. - Ashland Adam - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 2:49 pm:

    36 Lake Zurich students at sports camp test positive.

    Any idea how crowded some of our classrooms are? What does moving through the halls look like? Social distancing, anyone?

    If you believe in what epidemiologists report re: Covid transmission- and we aren’t able to have safe sports camps, Chicago beaches, bars and restaurants open, then all of that should apply to schools.

    A recent South Korean study reports that young people ages 10 through high school transmit the virus as easily as adults. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/18/health/coronavirus-children-schools.html


  15. - Allknowingmasterofraccoondom - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 2:50 pm:

    Oswego Willy-That’s doesn’t sound very “pro-life”

    Low blow dude, low blow. For believers and pro lifers, that’s a low blow.


  16. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 2:50 pm:

    Yeah some of you scoff, but give it a while. Some teacher, or a student or group of students, will get sick or worse. Then the exact same people will be back here, typing, “why didn’t the governor shut down the private schools, he should have known this would happen”. School administrators will say “don’t blame me, the governor didn’t stop us from opening”. I wouldn’t take JB’s job for all the tea in china.


  17. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 2:52 pm:

    Yeah teachers unions are bad, teachers are lazy and overpaid, they just want to left wing indoctrinate your kids, yada-yada-yada.

    But fundamentally even if you think all of that is true. If your union can not or will not protect you from an unsafe working environment then what is the point.

    In some ways this is the singular most logical thing for a teachers union to strike about. Workplace safety.


  18. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 2:52 pm:

    === For believers and pro lifers, that’s a low blow.===

    Then I hope those pro-lifers are pro mask.

    Otherwise… arbitrarily pro-life now includes risking the life of your Catholic school educators.


  19. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 2:53 pm:

    === But fundamentally even if you think all of that is true. If your union can not or will not protect you from an unsafe working environment then what is the point.

    In some ways this is the singular most logical thing for a teachers union to strike about. Workplace safety.===

    Restaurant quality.

    Labor unions were created in part because of workplace safety.

    Keep up.


  20. - GregN - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 2:59 pm:

    I see nothing wrong with their statement, and a lot right. Especially the last graph. If a district actually does take “safety first” steps to reopening or starts with remote, there are no consequences from the unions. What’s wrong with that?
    It also puts recalcitrant districts and parents on notice, in a way that mask requirements with no enforcement don’t: take the virus seriously, or find another way to teach and babysit your kids. You’d think EVERY parent would insist that nothing less be done, but we’ve seen otherwise with distancing/masks, etc.
    Finally, there is nothing in their contracts, job descriptions, or salaries that requires them to be “heroes”, whether it’s a shooter coming to kill kids or this virus. If that’s what we want, start paying them more. But it will still be their choice.


  21. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 3:01 pm:

    == If you think this is made up, their multi teacher union coalition is at this website==

    You’re conflating the loons at CTU with the IFT and IEA. I’m not sure if you are aware, but they’re not the same organizations. Your link doesn’t prove what you think it proves


  22. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 3:01 pm:

    =Yeah teachers unions are bad, teachers are lazy and overpaid, they just want to left wing indoctrinate your kids, yada-yada-yada.=

    No and neither are administrators. We are often vilified. Using threats though is a non starter. I would never talk to our teaching staff )or anyone else) with threats. The IEA and IFT are pretty sensitive to it but use that approach which makes them more than a little hypocritical.

    So much for being stronger when we are united.


  23. - Ashland Adam - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 3:01 pm:

    To Ed Equity’ post….the wish list you posted came from 8 local unions, and a number of community activist groups.

    The IFT and the IEA made a different statement.

    They’ll support a return to in-person schooling, rather than remote, if the schools take precautions and are safe.


  24. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 3:03 pm:

    @ LHM- isn’t the CTU aligned or associated with the IFT?

    This is especially disappointing because the UEA is usually reasonable compared with the IFT.


  25. - Just wondering - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 3:05 pm:

    What’s next? It seems they want school to be remote until January 1st then go from there. Then I’m sure that will spur a lawsuit. Well I’m saddling up to an outdoor bar table and have a birthday beer. Didn’t I’d see this in my 56 years. At least I’m not on the party bus.


  26. - Last Bull Moose - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 3:06 pm:

    My family, all high risk individuals, will remain in lock down until a vaccine is distributed and proven safe and effective. The national reaction to this pandemic confuses and appalls me.

    A national lockdown for 16 days, starting on a Friday night and ending on a Monday morning would knock this down to manageable levels. Close the groceries and everything else that can be stockpiled. Starve the virus of new victims.

    But we won’t do that. That would be too hard. So we limp along for months, praying for a vaccine that will save us.

    Is college in 2020 more dangerous than Vietnam in 1968? It sounds like it is.

    We will neither take action to save ourselves or accept the risk that results from inaction. The Greatest Generation is largely gone. The Least Generation is here today.


  27. - Ashland Adam - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 3:23 pm:

    152k deaths in the US to date.

    140K Union soldiers died on the battlefields of the Civil War.

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/covid-19-has-killed-more-americans-rebels-did-during-civil-n1234988


  28. - City Zen - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 3:24 pm:

    ==A national lockdown for 16 days, starting on a Friday night and ending on a Monday morning would knock this down to manageable levels.==

    Didn’t you get the memo? That conflicts with the August 3 National Day of Resistance. Why don’t you show up and tell them how confused and appalled they make you. Wear running shoes.


  29. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 3:29 pm:

    “152k deaths in the US to date”

    context 2017 - Leading Causes of Death
    Heart disease: 647,457
    Cancer: 599,108
    Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936
    Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
    Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383

    https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm


  30. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 3:33 pm:

    - Donnie Elgin -

    You can’t un-die.

    So your take is…

    “Teachers, you could die, maybe not, but you dying is worth it. Play the odds”?

    That’s an odd take.

    Those other causes of death… how many are caused by someone coughing on you?


  31. - Bottle Rocket - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 3:35 pm:

    The teacher unions are the best thing for teachers and the worst for students. When I was in education during the “great recession” people turned on the teachers and the salary they make. This is lined up to be worse. For the teachers that don’t rely go along with these “broad brushes” just know that your silence is agreement. Kids are not at risk and already are almost a year behind after the spring and summer. It’s a travesty that kids do not die from this and they are being kept out of school. The science does not support the consequences to this madness. If you are over 70 and have underlying conditions, you can’t enroll in K-12 anyway. Ridiculous.


  32. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 3:42 pm:

    - Bottle Rocket -

    I’ll let Dr. Birx… educate… you.

    === Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force, told a heartbreaking story of her great-grandmother dying from Spanish flu in 1918 as she underscored the need for social distancing.

    During the 1918 pandemic, Birx’s grandmother came home with the Spanish flu, and ended up passing it on to Birx’s great-grandmother, who had recently given birth. Birx said her grandmother lived with the guilt of this her entire life and “never forgot that she was the child that was in school that innocently brought that flu home.”

    “It’s very important to me personally. My grandmother, for 88 years, lived with the fact that she was the one at age 11 who brought home flu to her mother…when her mother had just delivered. And her mother succumbed to the great, 1918 flu,” Birx said at the daily White House press briefing on coronavirus.===

    If you think it’s about the kids, you have no clue how this virus kills.

    Reread this…

    ===Birx said her grandmother lived with the guilt of this her entire life and “never forgot that she was the child that was in school that innocently brought that flu home.”===

    Capiche’?


  33. - phenom_Anon - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 3:55 pm:

    =If you think it’s about the kids, you have no clue how this virus kills.=

    That’s the issue. Most kids wouldn’t even know they had it. But for many of the teachers, admins, custodial staff, volunteers, family at home, it’s a whole different deal.

    Or put another way, from my own anecdotal evidence, I’m healthy and most of my life rarely get sick, but I never realized how much that would change the first year my kids went into daycare. They bring EVERYTHING home.


  34. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 4:00 pm:

    Seems like a pretty reasonable position to me. Telling folks to update their wills is a threat even if it’s the best advice.


  35. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 4:02 pm:

    “But for many of the teachers, admins, custodial staff, volunteers, family at home, it’s a whole different deal”

    CDC has the answer
    Based on current data, the rate of infection among younger school children, and from students to teachers, has been low, especially if proper precautions are followed. There have also been few reports of children being the primary source of COVID-19 transmission among family members.[6],[7],[8]


  36. - Ed Equity - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 4:03 pm:

    Our forefathers faced a probability of dying heading into WW2. With a 99.7% survival rate, teachers can’t find a way of serving kids. Many parents are essential workers and without school are left to their own devices. These kids will be hurt and left to the streets. Where has courage disappeared to?


  37. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 4:06 pm:

    === Based on current data, the rate of infection among younger school children, and from students to teachers, has been low===

    … but not negligible.

    If your goal is to have teachers teach, no matter what, and whomever gets sick or worse… teacher, administrator, janitor, lunch worker, volunteer… that a price *you* are willing to pay… how many deaths are you going to be ok with till schools close?

    Odd way to loo at risk… “low”

    Never met a teacher who first thought “well, I thought risking my life is what teaching is all about.”

    Can’t say you’re about health when in reality you’re all about risk.


  38. - Ashland Adam - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 4:13 pm:

    To Donnie’s quote from the CDC:

    “…especially if proper precautions are followed.” this is the point - schools cannot take ‘proper precautions.’


  39. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 4:15 pm:

    === Our forefathers faced a probability of dying heading into WW2.===

    Does that make the children the German, Italian, and the Japanese That are trying to harm someone teaching (checks notes) how to write cursive?

    Dunno if that’s a good analogy. Kids possibly spreading a limited amount of a deadly disease as the enemy.

    If you think 0.03% is acceptable, “you first”

    You willing to die so kids can learn… Home Ec?


  40. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 4:19 pm:

    =“152k deaths in the US to date”

    context 2017 - Leading Causes of Death
    Heart disease: 647,457
    Cancer: 599,108
    Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936
    Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
    Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383=

    So what? COVID 19 will rank 3rd when this is said and done. The number could have been lower had people simply worn a mask.


  41. - Ashland Adam - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 4:22 pm:

    To Ed Equity’s WW II comparison - all of the US was on board in addressing the Axis threats. That’s not the case in the US with our Covid response.

    Ed E. asked where’s the courage? Here Ed E - a link to isbe’s site - How to become a short-term substitute teacher in Illinois: https://www.isbe.net/Pages/Short-Term-Sub-Teach.aspx

    Emphasis on ’short-term.’


  42. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 4:27 pm:

    =Any idea how crowded some of our classrooms are? What does moving through the halls look like? Social distancing, anyone?=

    Well, if they wear masks it will look like students moving through the halls with masks on. If staff members are present in the halls they can properly direct students.

    I am not arguing with science. Kids can transmit this illness, no question about it. I want teachers to be safe.

    With proper sanitation, mask wearing, and 3-6 feet social distancing many schools can hold in some in-person instruction. That may come with other mitigation efforts like reducing the number of students that attend each day. It will not be perfect and some schools will need to remote learn only.

    But the hysteria by some is unnecessary. So is the dismissing of real science by others.

    We can hold some level of in-person learning in a significant percentage of districts. And we should because it will be good for the many needs of students.


  43. - Nick Name - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 4:44 pm:

    ===The teachers unions never miss an opportunity to let a crisis go to waste that benefits themselves.===

    Yes, they and their students should just crowd into giant petrie dishes and let the virus pick them off one by one. How dare they take a stand for teachers’ and student’ health and safety.


  44. - Froganon - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 4:46 pm:

    The unions not the last ions


  45. - Ashland Adam - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 4:47 pm:

    JS Mill - thank you. Reasonably put. Yes, in-person is better all the way around. Better for students, and the adults who work with them.

    Real-world challenges include the obvious - enforcing the mask wearing, and keeping the students safely distanced in and around the schools.

    A workable hybrid, whereby a % of students rotates through the schools on a schedule. sounds good in these discussions. The implementation is another story.

    Teachers and their elected representatives are hopeful implementation can be accomplished collaboratively. But many years’ experience of dealing with particular school systems has led teachers to skepticism and caution.

    Here’s hoping this plays out differently - for all of us.


  46. - Pundent - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 5:01 pm:

    =context 2017 - Leading Causes of Death=

    And if your job suddenly put you into a “leading causes of death” category you’d be cool with that? You wouldn’t have any concerns if your employer had a less than adequate plan to protect your health?


  47. - City Zen - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 5:21 pm:

    @JSMill - Do you think students would be better off repeating this fall what they learned (or didn’t learn) last spring? Seems to me we’re trying to squeeze online teaching into the same time box as in-person instruction with varying results. I’d think a curriculum shift would be in order.


  48. - the Patriot - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 5:32 pm:

    ==That’s doesn’t sound very “pro-life”==

    Probably wouldn’t play the abortion card on the COVID rules for the Governor. The guy believes 16 year old girls can decide to have abortions, but just said they can’t decide to play volleyball.


  49. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 6:10 pm:

    === The guy believes 16 year old girls can decide to have abortions, but just said they can’t decide to play volleyball.===

    That’s an odd thing to think.

    *Only* 16 year olds need abortion rights?

    Still, how is it pro-life when playing roulette with lives to teach. Is that the Book of Leviticus or maybe Exodus?


  50. - Big Rock Joe - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 6:25 pm:

    =Is that the Book of Leviticus or maybe Exodus?=

    Neither.


  51. - Ipso Facto - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 6:32 pm:

    Remember when the Right wanted to Defund Schools? When the Americans for Prosperity wanted less government intervention, a committment to States Rights, eschewed an Imperial Presidency and, as stated, were proudly Pro Life. Hmmmm. So what is this about now wanting the Federal Government to force a national education mandate on local schools? Ironic.


  52. - Suburban Mom - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 8:53 pm:

    I know at least one suburban Chicago district where teachers are already strike-planning because the administration won’t meet even very basic demands (they’re looking at 30 students in a classroom and no PPE).

    Although I am devoutly Catholic and have an advanced degree in Catholic theology, I would not send my children to Archdiocese of Chicago schools this fall, because the safety planning is wholly inadequate, and I am not willing to gamble with my children’s lives. Or their teachers’ lives. Because Archdiocese of Chicago nuns taught me better than that.

    Not excited about it, but all three of my kids (ages 4 through 11) will be distance learning at home this fall. I will be working a 5 pm to 1 am shift. I will manage daytime distance learning, and my husband will take over at dinner time and manage dinner and homework. It’s going to be awful for everyone, but hopefully no one will die from our choices.


  53. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 9:44 pm:

    @CZ- tell me about the “curriculum shift”. Sounds fancy.

    We are focusing on priority standards.


  54. - Callie - Wednesday, Jul 29, 20 @ 9:50 pm:

    What are they scared of

    Presumably the kids as well as teachers will be wearing masks as long as they wear the masks no one is spreading anything


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