CPS Workers Call on CEO Martinez to Stop Stalling on Contract Negotiations

CPS Rally 021424

Chicago Public Schools support staff, represented by SEIU Local 73, rallied outside the Board of Education committee meeting demanding CEO Pedro Martinez stop stalling on contract negotiations.

Over 11,000 CPS support staff have worked without a contract since June 2023 and have not received a raise since July 1, 2022, despite record inflation. Local 73 presented its economic proposals in December, and yet CPS CEO Martinez has flatly refused to meet or discuss economics until March.

“Our members are the backbone of operations for the Chicago Public Schools system, and it’s time they are treated as such,” said Dian Palmer, President of SEIU Local 73. “They should not have to work multiple jobs just to survive and care for their families. They deserve better! CEO Martinez must do better for these vital workers. If CPS wants a fight, we’re going to bring it to them. We’re not going to take it. We’re going to stand up and fight. We’re going to bring our members, our allies, and even the fifth floor. We’re ready to bring it!”

“I’ve been with CPS for over 36 years. I’m a custodian and proud of it. We’re out here today because we we deserve a fair contract. My co-workers need fair wages to make ends meet,” said Timmy Simmons, Custodian at McCutcheon Elementary. “We work hard and we matter. We do our best for our schools and our students and we need to be recognized.”

“It’s not a coincidence that you’re out here fighting for clean and safe schools on a day when we celebrate love, because that’s exactly what love looks like,” said Alderman Ronnie Mosley (21st Ward). “Know that the Southside, the twenty-first ward, and the City Council, has your back. We know that when you thrive, we thrive, and this city thrives. Let’s stand up, let’s fight, and let’s win.”

“I was a member of CTU so I understand the struggle. And when we rally saying we deserve better, we speak the truth. I want you all to know you are not alone. Chicago City Council is with you,” said Ald. Jeylu Gutierrez (14th Ward). “All of you are the backbone of our schools. Let’s keep fighting for a fair contract for all of you.”

“We’ve been in bargaining since May 2023, eight long months. We need a fair contract,” said Shirley Shelton, Special Education Classroom Assistant at McNair Elementary. “We have people working two and three jobs just to take care of their families. When do they have time to take care of their own kids? They’re working nights. They’re working weekends. They’re working every minute of every day. That is why we want a fair contract!”

“CPS support staff keep our schools running. They keep our children safe. These workers deserve a wage that keeps pace with inflation,” said former SEIU member Sonia Khalil (Candidate IL-36). “They’re fighting for a fair contract, wage increases, and benefits they deserve. CEO Martinez this discussion must happen now. I stand with my union brothers and sisters in their fight for a fair contract.”

“CTU is with you one hundred percent. We are going to put this school district back together,” said Maria Moreno, CTU Financial Secretary. “To CEO Martinez I say, you have to do better. Either get together with us in collaboration or get out of the way.”

“This is a deeply personal issue for me. My mother raised five boys out of Englewood as a CPS SECA. We send our children to CPS schools every day,” said State Senator Willie Preston (IL-16). “My message to CEO Martinez on the Valentine’s Day, is have a heart! These workers deserve a fair contract now. We’re going to fight for you from City Hall to the halls of Springfield. We’re with you!”

CPS support staff, which include Special Education Classroom Assistants, Custodians, Crossing Guards, Bus Aides, Security Officers, and Parent Workers, are negotiating for a fair contract that meets the needs of workers and communities alike, including:

  • Job security with respect for seniority and due process
  • Provide student services by respecting staff’s job duties
  • Fair pay with COLA and longevity increases
  • Equitable pay over breaks
  • Clean and safe schools
  • City wide orientations and trainings with union access