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Pastors To Open Churches In Event Of Teacher Strike

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Rev. Walter Turner

The Rev. Walter Turner and other Chicago pastors are pledging to keep their churches open for schoolchildren in the event of a teacher strike. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Dozens of churches in the city say they plan to be open for Chicago Public Schools students next week if teachers go on strike Monday morning.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, pastors say parents are worried about where their children would be safe and fed, and whether families will have to come up with more money somehow for daycare if teachers walk out.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

“We’re hearing from parents, ‘Help us,’” said the Rev. Walter Turner at a news conference at the West Point Missionary Baptist Church, 3665 S. Cottage Grove Ave.

Nearly 60 churches promise to be open to CPS students if teachers do indeed walk off the job Monday morning. But the pastors hope the move proves unnecessary.

“I think there ought to be a 24-hour lock-in of all negotiators,” said the Rev. Cy Fields. “Get into a room, and nobody comes out until the deal is done.”

Fields said Chicago is becoming a national embarrassment because of the possibility of a teacher strike.

The teachers will walk out on Monday unless a new contract hammered out by then.

Many teachers are holding out hope for a fair contract, and some are upset they are not getting their scheduled 4 percent raise. Sources tell CBS 2 the district is offering its teachers an 8 percent raise over four years, and wants to form a committee to create a new pay system.

Teachers are also expressing concerns with teacher recall, feeling that if schools consolidate and close as planned for the year to come, veteran teachers could lose their jobs. Those teachers want a guarantee that they are the first hired back.

Chicago Public Schools chief executive officer Jean-Claude Brizard said Tuesday morning that officials were doing everything they can to avert a strike.

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