The Chicago Teachers’ Strike: A Reader

7977902651_6abc97c433_zThe 2012 Chicago teachers’ strike, which ended a year ago today in a victory for the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU),  was one of the most significant labour victories in North America since the economic crash of 2008. The seven day strike saw daily protests in downtown Chicago and mass pickets throughout the city.

The CTU, under the leadership of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE), which had won the union leadership in 2010, diligently built alliances and links with communities and parents in the lead up to the strike. They took stances for more funding and resources for children and they opposed the school closures that were (and still are) taking place in predominantly African American communities. CORE also actively reached out and empowered their membership ctu strikewhile rebuilding their shop stewards network. CTU’s high strike vote shows the success of CORE’s outreach and democratic practice, 90% percent of the CTU’s 29,000 members voted to authorize strike action (of those that voted it was 98%). The strike dealt a firm blow to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s neoliberal education agenda of laying off teachers and privatizing more and more of Chicago’s schools. The struggle over the fate of the education system in Chicago and beyond is of course still ongoing

We at Rank and believe that this strike should be studied and generalized. Moreover, we think that trade unionists should be looking at how CORE organized from below and were able to reach out and speak to the issues of their membership and the community and empower them to take action. In that spirit we present to you a list of readings and videos to learn more about this strike, how it was organized and why it was successful.


CTU Strikes 1969 – 1987” by CORE 
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis: Deal Ending Strike a Victory for Education” by Democracy Now
Chicago Teachers Union vs. Astroturf Billionaires” by CTU New Media
Chicago Teacher” by Rebel Diaz
Defend our Schools: Fighting for Education Justice!” by Socialism Conference 2013
Chicago Teachers’ Strike” by Labor Beat
CTU STRIKE ONE YEAR LATER: Karen Lewis on why we fought” by CTU


When the Chicago teachers rose up” by Lee Suster
Hello My Name Is…Reflections of the CTU Strike” a Prezi presentation by Nicole Zumpano
Lessons of Chicago teachers’ strike” by David Bernt
“‘Class’ Warfare: A Primer on the Chicago Teachers Strike” by Justin Panos
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