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Cook County College Teachers Union authorizes October strike

The Cook County College Teachers Union voted to strike by the end of October if an agreement is not reached. Union members are demanding subsidies for student housing and child care costs along with higher wages and smaller classes.

The Cook County College Teachers Union authorized members to strike by the end of October if negotiations between union leadership and the City Colleges of Chicago continue to stall.

Union members Oct. 6 voted 92% in support of potentially shutting down Chicago’s seven community colleges to secure greater housing security and child care options for students, in addition to reducing class sizes and increasing staff salaries.

Cook County College Teachers Union President Tony Johnston said the authorization will not guarantee a strike, but will empower the union to call for one if deemed necessary. He said the negotiating parties are still far from reaching an agreement.

“We don’t want to strike, but our members have made it clear that they will take the steps necessary to ensure our community colleges continue to offer a quality education to the students of Chicago,” Johnston said.

Alongside pay raises for faculty and professional staff to offset inflation and enhance academic support in classrooms and labs, Johnston said members want to update their contract language to fund a new initiative: “City Colleges for the Common Good.”

The taxpayer-funded program would subsidize child care, housing costs and expanded “wraparound” support services for students. The Chicago Teachers Union made similar demands for more affordable housing during a strike in October 2019 that forced Chicago Public Schools to close for 11 days.

A City Colleges of Chicago spokeswoman said, “City Colleges is committed to negotiating in good faith with each of our professionals and faculty unions to finalize their respective contracts.”

Government unions are seeking greater power to negotiate over much more than traditional wages and benefits through Amendment 1, a proposal at the top of the Nov. 8 ballot. Property taxes are on pace to rise by $2,149 for the typical homeowner during the next four years. Should government union bosses exercise new powers granted through Amendment 1, including making demands about housing and child care, the tax hike on Illinoisans could wind up being far more costly.

The union-backed constitutional amendment is so broad that government union bosses could negotiate over a nearly endless array of subjects. There’s evidence the new demands could range widely.

The Chicago Teachers Union has advocated for defunding the police and banks, as well as taking other militant actions as part of its social agenda. Now the Cook County College Teachers Union appears to be following that playbook.

Amendment 1 would promise higher property taxes as it empowers government unions. There’s a reason no other state has granted so much power to its government unions.

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