'This would be an illegal strike': CPS responds to CTU's resolution for teachers to work remotely starting Monday

Empty classroom amid COVID-19

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Chicago Public Schools officials said if teachers refuse to return to K-through-8 classrooms on Monday, they’ll be violating their contract and the law.

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said teachers are "resolved to continue working, teaching their students and doing so safely."

That would be working remotely for roughly 10,000 teachers due back in classrooms on Monday.

He said only the Mayor can force a strike, "and if it comes to that, that's her choice. We choose safety."

CPS begs to differ.

CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade said teachers have to show up to duty. If they choose not to collectively, she said, that’s withholding labor and that’s a strike.

"It's disheartening to hear that CTU has resolved that they would be willing to strike, essentially being in breach of their contract. This would be an illegal strike," she said. "Make no mistake about it. This would be an illegal strike that would propose closing schools leaving thousands of children and families without access to in-person learning."

McDade said 77,000 families have opted for in-person education, and she insists it’s safe to go back.

When asked if CPS will electronically lock out teachers who choose to work remotely and withhold their pay, McDade said "we are not choosing to lock anyone out. Teachers have to show up to duty. And if they choose not to, collectively, that's not a CPS lock out, that would be considered withholding labor, which is a strike."