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Teachers Union ‘Disappointed’ In Contract Talks, Goes Home For The Day

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Karen Lewis

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 09/07/12 6:27 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Teachers Union officials say they are “disappointed” about how contract negotiations went Friday with school officials and went home for the night, even as a teachers strike loomed for Monday.

“We did not make much progress at the table. We are very disappointed. We thought it would be infinitely better than it was,” CTU President Karen Lewis said at a news conference Friday evening.


LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports Lewis’ remarks stand in contrast to remarks earlier in the day by Chicago School Board President David Vitale, who said the two sides had “closed the gap fairly significantly” and expressed confidence that a strike would be averted.”

But Lewis said when talks ended Friday, the two sides remained vastly far apart.

“We were told that we were going to get a proposal that would answer some of our biggest issues, and it did not,” she said.

Lewis said negotiations will resume Saturday at noon.

RELATED: Families Dreading Possibility Of A Teacher Strike

The CTU and Chicago Public Schools have been locked in contract negotiations for days in an attempt to avoid a potential teachers strike.

The CTU’s House of Delegates voted last week to strike as soon as 12:01 a.m. Monday if a contract is not worked out. The tone of public statements from both sides of the negotiating table had been cordial the last few days, but Lewis said an expected counter-offer from CPS did not materialize Friday.

The two sides have said they are still trying to resolve disagreements over wage levels, teacher evaluations and how teachers are recalled for work after layoffs, among other issues. Lewis would not provide specifics at the Friday news conference.

A strike by CTU members would displace 30,000 teachers, counselors and other educational professions and deny classroom instruction to 350,000 students across the city.

A strike is seen as problematic for many parents who do not have alternative plans for their children. CPS has worked out a plan to open some school buildings for part of the day so that students have a place to go.

But Lewis slammed CPS’ contingency plans that would keep some 144 school buildings open in the event of a strike. Lewis said the schools would be a “mess” and should be shuttered during the strike.

The CPS system plans to offer a half-day program that runs from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., which will keep 144 schools open. Breakfast and lunch will be served to help ease the burden for those parents who don’t have an alternative.

But Lewis said some of the attorneys and central staff from CPS are being sent out to staff the half-day program, and “please tell me how it’s going to be good.”

“To let you know, as little respect as (CPS has) for us, they have less respect for our parents’ children,” Lewis said.

She advised parents to prepare for the likelihood of a strike on their own. Meanwhile, teachers were reportedly to take their belongings home after class Friday — a development that suggests a strike is likely.

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