It’s time to activate your safety committee
An email to all base members from CTU President Jesse Sharkey.
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
If we’ve learned anything this year it’s that we can’t trust Mayor Lightfoot to maximize the safety of our members and students. Even his best doctor recognized what we have always known, that schools are bad after winter break and maybe need to press pause.
Today, we presented the CPS with a proposal requiring protections to prevent the spread of COVID in our schools, or an operational hiatus while the current COVID outbreak increases. Those protections must include a massive increase in testing and a negative COVID test to get all students back to class – or a two-week return to distance education until this wave of the pandemic subsides. We will discuss this in detail at Teletown Hall on Sunday. Be ready to answer your phone when we call you at 6 p.m.
At this point, it is up to us – all of us in solidarity – to ensure the safety of our members, our students and our school communities. Last night, hundreds of members attended our safety training to learn how to activate their safety committees. The key message? Safety committees are the authority on safety in our schools. We can use them to regain control of our principals and CPS. But we need to organize in our buildings to prepare members for action if and when concerns are ignored.
How can your committee keep you safe? Your safety committee can:
- Demand that the administration distribute high-quality N95 masks to students and staff and explicitly state how the school will increase testing among students.
- Demand that the CPS resolve poor ventilation and substandard cleaning. Some schools have filed complaints with OSHA and obtained redress.
- Urge administrators to present their plans for running the school if staff levels drop as a result of the COVID disease – and lobby staff not to be sure to trigger an operational break.
- Help families access tests and vaccinations, like the members of Park Manor did this week.
- Engage in remote work only until your security concerns are addressed, as Carnegie members did earlier this month after a staff member died from COVID. They won important new school safety protocols.
We’re asking members to form, strengthen or reorganize their school safety committees this week to establish safety standards in their buildings – and potentially step up actions to keep you and your students safe next week. including a school-wide operational break if necessary. Follow these next steps as soon as you can:
We shouldn’t have to fight to put pressure on the mayor to put our lives ahead of our livelihoods, but this is the reality we face. Our unity and solidarity have kept us safer over the past two years. And, collectively, our unity will continue to protect us all.
President of CTU
The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25,000 teachers and instructional support staff working in Chicago public schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. CTU is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and is the third largest local teachers’ chapter in the United States. For more information, please visit the CTU website at www.ctulocal1.org.