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CTU House Of Delegates Passes Resolution Allowing Teachers To Work Remotely When CPS Schools Reopen For K-8 Education

CHICAGO (CBS) --Less than a year and half since their last strike, the Chicago Teachers Union could be moving toward another.

No strike authorization vote has yet happened. But late Wednesday, the CTU came out with a clear message - teachers will not be in school Monday.

As CBS 2's Tara Molina reported, the union is asking its 25,000 members to vote on a resolution that rejects in-person learning until they come to an agreement with CPS.

The union's House of Delegates late Wednesday passed the resolution, which would authorize all CPS teachers represented by the union to work remotely only despite schools being open.

The resolution would apply starting on Monday, Jan. 25, or whatever date Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago School Board require kindergarten through eighth-grade teachers to return to school for in-person learning. That date is a week ahead of the planned return date for K-8 students.

The authorization would continue until the union comes to an agreement with CPS.

The resolution will go for a vote before full rank-and-file membership by electronic ballot from Thursday through Saturday.

"This is about a pandemic that has killed 400,000 Americans, and an overwhelming majority of our delegates are resolved to putting safety first and continuing to teach remotely," CTU President Jesse Sharkey said in a news release. "In the absence of an actual commitment on safety from CPS leadership, the best assurance we have for the safety of our students and school staff right now is to continue remote learning."

In its own statement, the Chicago Public Schools said it had been bargaining with the CTU in good faith, and said the union is trying to close schools that are already open and safe:

"In each of the more than 60 sessions that we have had with CTU leadership concerning safely re-opening our schools, the district has come to the table in good faith, and we remain committed to reaching a mutually-acceptable agreement. We have agreed to the CTU's safety demands every step of this process and we are ready to come to a resolution that provides our families the smooth transition to in-person learning they deserve.

"CTU leadership wants to close schools that are already safely open to students, and cancel in-person learning for the tens of thousands of students who are relying on their dedicated educators to provide in-person learning in the coming weeks. Stripping tens of thousands of students of the opportunity for safe, in-person learning is not an option or a viable solution for families who have been planning to return since December."

Despite days of bargaining to land a deal on a safe, agreeable plan for all teachers heading back to the classroom, CPS and the CTU couldn't make that happen.

This latest authorization vote is a move that could ultimately lead to a strike, because the district has said teachers and staff who don't show up Monday, as required, won't be paid or able to reach their emails and remote teaching tools.

If that happens, the resolution authorizes a strike until a deal is reached for all teachers, including high school staff, who haven't been called back yet.

So, the pressure was on Wednesday night, because a walkout of any kind could ultimately leave more than 280,000 kids from attending any school, remote or not.

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