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Schools Reach Contract Deal With Lunchroom Workers

School lunch (CBS)

School lunch (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The Chicago Board of Education and the union representing 3,300 lunchroom workers have reached a contract deal, providing modest raises and a commitment to serve better food.

WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports the deal will provide 2 percent raises for lunchroom workers for the next two years. The board has also committed to reezing the conversion of cooking kitchens to warming kitchens, and serving students re-heated frozen food.

“A great victory for the children of Chicago,” said lunchroom worker Constance Hatchett. “Thousands of students will be eating good food.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports


Henry Tamarin, president of UNITE HERE Local 1, said “freshly prepared, wholesome food is one that we could find the common ground with the Board of Education on.”

However, about one third of public schools are still using warming kitchens.

“We still have kids out there who are getting what we regard as the wrong kind of food,” Tamarin said.

But school officials stood by their commitment to better food at schools.

“We have a commitment to providing the best fresh foods possible,” said CPS Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard. “When you hear that we care about our kids, it’s not a farce, it’s not a front, it is genuine.”

Asked about the status of contract talks with teachers, Brizard said, “We’ve been hearing about strikes on the other side, but we’re focusing on finding a resolution.”

Chicago Teachers Union officials have said informal strike votes continue to be overwhelmingly in favor of a strike, should contract talks reach an impasse.

However, teachers have an extremely high bar to meet before they can go on strike. A new state law requires 75 percent of all public school teachers – not simply those voting – to vote to authorize a strike, before any work stoppage can take place.