Lewis to CPS parents: April 1 CTU action ‘like an extra holiday’

CTU president Karen Lewis addressed a conference of parent-mentors on Monday.

Lauren FitzPatrick/Sun-Times

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis assured public school parents on Monday that an April 1 action threatened by her union in response to CPS furlough days and possible pay cuts won’t drag out.

“I wish I could tell them, ‘Look at it like an extra holiday,’ right? Look at it that way. That’s the only thing I can tell them to make them feel better,” Lewis said after speaking at a parent conference in Woodlawn. “But they shouldn’t be nervous, they shouldn’t be upset. there should be no anxiety around it. It won’t be something that’s open ended. That’s something that they need to understand.

“I’m talking about April 1,” she clarified. “Now May 16, I can’t promise how that’s going to go,” she continued, referring to the first possible date on which her 27,000 members could launch a contract strike.

The CTU’s feisty leader further backed off a strike over unfair labor practices that was, as of last week, “all but assured” to happen on April 1.

Lewis also told hundreds of parents that they and students and teachers have become hostages in the ongoing state budget battle — making it perfectly clear whom she blames.

“We are all being held hostage by a governor who doesn’t want to work for us,” Lewis told the crowd at the Logan Square Neighborhood Association’s Parent Mentor celebration and workshop Monday morning at Apostolic Church of God, 6339 S. Kenwood Ave.

“The budget is being held hostage by a … sociopath” Lewis added, pausing to choose the word.

About 600 parents from across Illinois were expected to attend the conference, according to the group. The parent-mentors work in classrooms in 65 low income schools; the group says those parents help about 600 teachers and nearly 15,000 students across the state.