A group of parents in Chicago have filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Teachers Union, claiming that the school closures this week are the result of an “illegal strike.”
The lawsuit, filed by the Liberty Justice Center on Thursday, seeks to get teachers back in the classroom, and accused the Chicago Teachers Union of participating in an illegal strike.
“Because CTU members refused to teach under the conditions set forth by CPS—in-person instruction—CTU members are, by definition engaged in a strike,” the lawsuit states.
The Chicago Public Schools has closed classrooms since Wednesday as a result of a vote by the Chicago Teachers Union to switch classes to a remote format, which the district refused to do.
A tweet by the Chicago Teachers Union states that they would go back to in-person learning when either coronavirus cases “substantially subside” or the city signs an agreement on “conditions of return.”
The lawsuit also notes that the Chicago Teachers Union received 73% support from their members to withhold in-person teaching due to rising coronavirus cases and so-called inadequate safety measures by the Chicago Public Schools, which is “less than the three-fourths required to authorize a strike.”
A sign is displayed on the front of the headquarters for Chicago Public Schools on January 05, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Lawyers with the Liberty Justice Center are asking for an emergency hearing where a judge could order teachers back into the classroom.
Ammie Kessem, a parent of a student within the Chicago Public Schools, who’s also the 41st Ward Republican Committeeman in Chicago, told Fox News Digital that the decision by Chicago Teachers Union members not to show up to work is taking a toll on students’ mental health.
“[Students] were just starting to get things back to normal. And now all of the sudden, they have the rug ripped out right from under them,” Kessem said.
Kessem noted that teachers have various resources to keep themselves safe and there should be no work stoppage, and said she joined the lawsuit to get students back in school.
Lori Lightfoot speaks during a Jan. 4 press conference (Facebook/ Chicago Public Schools) (Facebook/ Chicago Public Schools)
“I’m a first responder. I have to be to work. And the bottom line is that these kids need to be in school. It’s the safest place for them,” Kessem said.
An attorney at the Liberty Justice Center said in a press release that the teachers union is violating their collective bargaining agreement with the Chicago Public Schools.
Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Jesse Sharkey speaks outside Peirce Elementary School on the first day of a strike by the CTU, on October 17 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/ AFP)
“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.”