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Striking Chicago Teachers Get ‘Civil Disobedience’ Training From Bernie Sanders Staffers, Plan To Disrupt Trump Visit

The Chicago Teachers Union got a treat as their strike entered its second week: a “civil disobedience” training session from a Bernie Sanders staffer.
Monday marks day eight of the CTU strike, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, and neither the city of Chicago nor the teacher’s union seem poised to give in on contract negotiations. CTU is demanding not just a raise in pay and an increase in benefits, but jobs for nurses, social workers, and librarians, many of whom are represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which sees the CTU negotiation as an opportunity to demand more union employees be hired into the Chicago public school system.
The city of Chicago and mayor Lori Lightfoot seem increasingly exasperated with the negotiations, suggesting Monday that CTU is not serious about reaching a deal — something CTU seemed more than willing to underline but suggesting that Rev. Jesse Jackson, Jr., take over as mediator between the two parties.
Both sides called their Friday and Monday meetings, “good progress.”
Despite their optimistic public comments, school remains cancelled for the city’s 300,000 students for the foreseeable future, according to WGN, and, over the weekend, the teacher’s union sent a clear message to city officials that strike methods may become more extreme if negotiations drag on.
Last week, striking Chicago teachers received a day-long training on “civil disobedience,” according to the Sun-Times. There, the educators learned how to grind buildins to a standstill, clog intersections, and draw the attention of law enforcement so that any eventual arrest becomes a visible reminder of the strike for city officials, and, hopefully, a national news story.
“During the presentation, led by an SEIU Healthcare official and a staffer for presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders’ political team, strikers were coached on blocking traffic and shutting down building lobbies,” the Sun-Times said. “Despite members agreeing that any protests would remain nonviolent, they were all prepped for being arrested as part of future demonstrations. They were told to avoid carrying anything that isn’t necessary and advised to use the restroom and bundle up in the case they’re locked up.”
Members of CTU were also advised to dress warmly since “jail cells can be cold.”
“We are probably under a consensus and agreement that what we want to do is what is going to advance our message as clearly as possible and put as much possible pressure on the mayor to settle this problem as quickly as possible,” the Sanders staffer who hosted the workshop told media.
The training, organizers said, was for those “who are ready to step it up a notch…We will learn from the tactics that ended Jim Crow and the Vietnam War” to end the contract impasse, though reasons for the scale up weren’t given.
As for when the more visible protests will begin, well, union officials suggested protesting President Donald Trump, who is in Chicago Monday for a fundraiser and to give a speech to the International Association of Chiefs of Police holding their annual convention on the city’s south side, would be a “productive” idea, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“After pickets Monday, the CTU has not planned any afternoon activity,” an email from union leaders to union members, sent Sunday night, read. “Feel free to rest or take part in any productive activity of your choosing. We have heard that President Donald Trump might be in town. If any members were inclined to show up outside his fundraiser in red, that would qualify as productive, in our view.”

Trump did not acknowledge the strike in his remarks to police chiefs Monday morning, focusing instead on immigration and the failures of Chicago’s police department. He’s also unlikely to see any protests; since McCormick Place, where Trump is speaking, is out of the way of downtown, and demonstrations there aren’t likely to draw attention or disrupt city business. Instead, protesters will gather outside Trump Tower.

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