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‘Framework’ For Teachers’ Contract In Place, School Likely Monday

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Teachers Strike: Day 5

Teachers picket on day five of the Chicago teachers’ strike. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 09/14/12 9 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Negotiators working to end the five-day Chicago teachers’ strike say they have a “framework” for a contract and expect school to resume on Monday.

“We are feeling pretty good,” School Board President David Vitale said on Friday afternoon as talks ended for the day. “We are going to have our kids in school on Monday.”

Saying that the “heavy lifting has been done,” Vitale said both sides have a framework for an agreement. More talks are scheduled for Saturday.

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The focus now shifts to a meeting of the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates on Sunday. Union leaders appear ready to recommend a contract proposal to the delegates, who would then take a vote on whether to suspend the strike. If a majority vote to do that, the way is cleared for school to resume on Monday.

CTU President Karen Lewis stressed a strike-ending vote isn’t automatically assured, but she said she hopes there is class next week.

“At this moment the strike is not suspended,” Lewis told reporters Friday afternoon. “I want to be clear about, because there is a process.”

“Our delegates are not interested in blindly signing off on something they have not seen,” Lewis added. “A framework is one thing. We think it’s a framework that can get us to an agreement, but we’re not quite there.”

Any contract would need to be ratified by the full union membership.

Mayor Emanuel called the framework “an honest and principled compromise,” and a Chicago City Hall source was optimistic things would return to normal next week.

“The kids will be back in school on Monday, and it gives them the time in school and all the things we believe necessary for a good education,” the source said.

Both sides were recovering Friday morning from a long night, and were very tired. Negotiations on Thursday ran until 12:45 a.m. Friday.

The overall compensation package would increase teacher salaries, on average, 16 percent over four years. The latest proposal includes retaining STEP wage increases — which are based on teacher experience — with larger increases for tenured teachers. Those increases will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but both sides differ on the exact cost.

It also calls for an annual 2 percent cost-of-living increase for the four years of the deal, retaining current contractual class size language, and establishing a joint committee to craft a new teacher evaluation plan.

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