Monday Strike Deadline Looms For Chicago Teachers Union

by
staff
There was only bad news Friday as contract talks between Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union headed into the weekend with Monday’s strike deadline looming ever closer.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis addresses a crowd of teachers and union members at Daley Plaza, Monday, September 3, 2012. Teachers were rallying for a contract ahead of a possible strike.

Chicago • There was only bad news Friday as contract talks between Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union headed into the weekend with Monday’s strike deadline looming ever closer.

After nearly eight hours of talks at the union’s Merchandise Mart headquarters, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis looked grim.

"We are very disappointed," Lewis said during a press conference. "We thought it would be infinitely better than it was."

Lewis said that after School Board President David Vitale entered talks Thursday, union leaders were told they would get a proposal "addressing some of our biggest issues and we did not."

Vitale, who a day earlier expressed optimism, warned parents to prepare for a strike as he left negotiations at union headquarters.

"Parents need to plan for Monday morning, and we will start to execute our (strike contingency) plan because logistically it takes us time to do that," he said. "It’s not a statement that we’re not going to get there it’s just that we’re being cautious and precautionary about Monday."

Lewis said weekend talks, which begin at noon Saturday, would be "intense."

The sticking points to a new contract remain raises, a recall policy for laid-off teachers, and a new teacher evaluation system.

It wasn’t clear exactly how far the two sides were apart on salary hikes. CPS’ last known offer was for 2 percent increases in each year of a four-year contract. The union had been asking for significantly more, although Lewis declined to say Friday how much it had come down from its call for a 19 percent raise in the contract’s first year.

The district has backed off its call for merit pay in the face of staunch union opposition but is still insisting that annual raises not be given for experience.