On Saturday, July 13 member leaders came together to carry out the final count of a strike vote that would authorize our CPS members bargaining committee to call a strike. When the final vote was tallied 97% of voters voted YES. After working without a contract for over a year, Special Education Classroom Assistants (SECAs), Custodians, Bus Aides, and Security Officers represented by SEIU Local 73 declared they had had enough. These workers provide important educational, health, and safety services to students everyday but have been largely ignored by CPS administration. This year they are demanding the respect they have earned.
Members from each job title have spoken out about what this strike vote means to them and they are more ready than ever to take a stand.
“I am going to make my voice heard for the sake of those voices that aren’t including my coworkers and my special education students. My students live and learn through their severe handicaps and we just do not have the necessary staff nor resources to make sure all of our students receive the attention they deserve. I’m ready to fight for them.” – Henry Wilborn, Special Education Classroom Assistant II. Gresham Elementary.
“I use to enjoy coming into work but every day I feel more and more stressed. Private companies like Aramark have taken too much control over our work as custodians with no fairness. We don’t have the supplies or machines we need to get our work done right and then us Custodians are blamed for the conditions of the schools. We have to work harder with less and it’s not fair. Enough is enough.” – Sarah Morgan, Lead Custodian, Robert A. Black Magnet School.
“This is personal for me. We have a lot of crime in this city but I’m happy to say that while students are in school, they are safe with me. This means the world to me but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be that important to CPS. Security Officers need proper staffing and training to keep students safe but when we ask for it we get laughed at. They think it’s a joke but there’s nothing funny about our students safety. I’m ready to strike because my students’ safety is worth it. I know showing our strength will get us the resources we deserve.” – Morris Crawford, Security Officer, Bouchet International School.
“A change to our working conditions is long overdue. As a Bus Aide with CPS it is a challenge every day for me to get scheduled for enough hours to make ends meet. The cost of living in Chicago keeps going up but I haven’t seen a raise in years to keep up. Workers are losing their cars and homes and what we make is just not enough. It is time for management to take this seriously.” – Gail Pierce, Bus Aide, CPS.
On Wednesday, June 26th, Mayor Lori Lighfoot’s new School Board met for the first time and SEIU Local 73 members stood side by side the Chicago Teachers Union to show that CPS workers across job titles and across the city will not be made invisible. On Wednesday, July 24, CPS workers represented by SEIU Local 73 will be holding a press conference outside of the next School Board meeting to announce our intention to strike if a just agreement is not reached before the new school year.