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Chicago Teachers Signal One-Day Strike On May 1 If CPS Ends School Year Early

(CBS) -- Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis says delegates expect to vote next month on whether to call for a one-day strike in response to school leaders' recent threat to close schools three weeks early.

"If the board goes ahead with the threat of cancelling three weeks of school, we would view their action as a massive violation of our contract, and that could provoke a strike," Lewis said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference.

The strike would occur on May 1, or May Day, a labor-related occasion.

The possibility that Chicago Public Schools will end the current school year on June 1 comes amid the latest CPS budget crisis. CPS officials say the governor blew a more than $200 million hole in the current budget when he vetoed a pension-funding measure.

Lewis says Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel should consider using tax-increment financing, or TIF, money to help plug the budget hole if Springfield doesn't come through with assistance.

Asked about CTU's potential one-day strike, Emanuel tells CBS 2: "Any day our kids aren't in school is a bad day because it's a day away from their future."

CPS CEO Forrest Claypool recently said a June 1 closure of Chicago schools is a "worst-case scenario," if a judge doesn't expedite a lawsuit the school system has filed against the state. It argues minority children in Chicago are being shortchanged, compared to school districts in other parts of the state.

CPS had been scheduled to let out on June 20.


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