The Chicago Teachers Union is continuing to needlessly obstruct the reopening of public high schools in the city by instructing members not to reveal if they have received a coronavirus vaccination or not.
What are the details?
For more than two months, the union has clashed with the city's school system, Chicago Public Schools, over its plan to resume in-person instruction. The union's complaint centered around allegedly inadequate safety protocols, despite the city spending $100 million to make schools coronavirus-safe.
Last month, the district finally opened its doors to tens of thousands of students attending kindergarten through eighth grade after weeks of tense negotiation between the union and CPS. The union originally voted to defy the reopening plan and threatened to strike if any teachers were disciplined for refusing to return to the classroom. As part of its reasoning, the union claimed teachers' vaccination schedules were unsatisfactory.
But now the union is reportedly stalling any further reopening plans by instructing members not to disclose whether they have been vaccinated or not in a survey being circulated to faculty and staff.
According to a report by WBBM-TV, in a letter sent to its more than 20,000 members, the teachers' union advised that members "wait to respond to [CPS'] vaccination survey."
"I don't have a problem with people answering this kind of survey," insisted CTU President Jesse Sharkey. "I do have a problem with CPS not bargaining it with us."
The report noted that as of last week, CPS' vaccination page showed that while 16,500 faculty and staff had been offered vaccinations, only about 4,200 reported receiving the shot.
Adding to the drama, this week, CPS put forward a plan to open city high schools for in-person instruction on April 19. But, once again, the union pushed back.
"We have no agreement on returning to in-person learning in high schools on any date, nor will there be an agreement until we know our school buildings can reopen safely," the union said in a defiant statement.
The union's resistance comes even as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last month that school reopening should not be conditioned on teacher vaccinations and as much of the country is waking to the idea that a return to in-person instruction is absolutely vital for the health of its children.
Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called out the CTU for operating based on political motives.
"When you have unions that have other aspirations beyond being a union, and maybe being something akin to a political party, then there's always going to be conflict," she said during an interview with the New York Times.