Reason #2 on Why CPS Teachers Shouldn’t Go on Strike: It’s ALL About Money! (5-part Series)

Regardless of what you might hear in the news, understand this one thing: If the Chicago Teachers Union goes on strike, it will be about money…period.

Now, if you have been listening to the TV news or consuming a ton of social media, you might think that the pending strike is a referendum on all things Chicago Public Schools.  You have heard the Chicago Teachers Union leadership and their surrogates talking about a lot of serious problems that CPS is struggling with:

  • Students and teachers need more materials and equipment
  • The district could certainly use more specialized personnel (librarians, special education teachers, teachers aides)
  • A lot the buildings are in need of various kinds of repair (and in some cases replacement)
  • The list could go on

These are all legitimate problems that the district will have to deal with.  But, they all have this in common: THEY ARE NOT AT ISSUE IN THE IMPENDING CTU STRIKE.

There are only four major issues at play in the negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Board of Education.  They are the issues that the two parties put in front of a 3rd party fact finder back in March of this year:

  • Wages
  • Steps and Lanes
  • Pension Pick-up
  • Health Care

Need proof?

Check out the legal filing that the groups put in front of the fact finder.  You can see in the top right corner a delineation of “Issues”.


The Union has been very good about talking about any number of issues in public in order to inflame the passions of parents and community members.  If you only listened to the public debate, you would think that the Chicago Teachers Union was in a closed room of representatives from the district talking about the particulars of how to get more nurses in Chicago Public School buildings.  That is simply not the case.

  • If the district pledged to hire 100 new librarians, that would not resolve the strike.
  • If the district pledged air conditioning in every building, that would not resolve the strike.

In fact, Karen Lewis made it pretty clear on Twitter what the Chicago Teachers Union strike is all about.


The latest contract offer on the table from CPS DOES NOT cut teacher pay.  It gives every single teacher in the system a net salary increase; even after teachers picked more cost for their pensions and health care benefits.

With an average salary of $78,000 per year, CPS teachers are among the best compensated in America.  And if the teachers walk out of the classroom on October 11th, it will be because they want even more money…period.

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Chris Butler is first a husband and a dad. He has been involved across the spectrum of public engagement activities and has worked with a number of diverse constituencies in urban and suburban communities. He has also been involved in several political campaigns including his service as a youth and young adult coordinator for Barack Obama’s primary bid for U.S. Senate. Chris worked as deputy campaign manager and field director for A+ Illinois where he developed a strong, statewide field operation including over 500 organizations and 50,000 individuals around the state working to bring adequacy and equity to Illinois’ school funding system and as the director of advocacy and outreach at New Schools for Chicago, a leader in school reform in Chicago. Chris is a 2006 graduate of the Ministry Training Institute and holds a degree in civic and political engagement from Northeastern Illinois University.