Parents sue Chicago Teachers Union over school closures, 'illegal strike'

Suit argues union violated its collective bargaining agreement with school system.
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Chicago Teachers Union Votes To Defy In-Person Classroom Return
Chicago Teachers Union Votes To Defy In-Person Classroom Return
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Seven parents of Chicago Public Schools students are suing the district's teachers' union, calling this week's closure of schools over union claims they were unsafe an "illegal strike."

The parents are asking the court to rule that the Chicago Teachers Union's action violates its collective bargaining agreement with CPS and prevent the union from continuing "to authorize its members to stop in-person teaching," among other demands.

“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,” Jeffrey Schwab, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, which is representing the parents, said in a statement. “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.”

The CTU voted late Tuesday to urge Chicago Public Schools to switch to fully remote learning because of a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, and authorized teachers to refuse to report to work is CPS refused. Schools have been closed since Tuesday with no remote learning options, and CPS on Friday said schools also would be closed Monday as negotiations continue with the union.

"Throughout this entire pandemic, our kids have paid a tremendous price for adults’ mistakes and miscalculations, and now the teachers’ union has hastily and recklessly put them on their political roller coaster again,” Laurel Golden, one of the parents named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said in a statement. “The science is clear, and so is the desire of parents: Our kids need and deserve to be in school. This illegal strike must be ended immediately, and we must get kids back into the classroom.”

Liberty Justice Center is a national nonprofit law firm based in Chicago that focuses on defending Americans' constitutional rights.

The Chicago Teachers Union did not immediately respond to a request for comment.