As Strike Deadline Nears, CPS And Teachers Continue Last Ditch Talks

CHICAGO (CBS) — The looming threat of a strike by the Chicago Teachers Union continued Monday, and if an agreement isn’t reached with the Chicago Public Schools isn’t reached by the end of the day, teachers have vowed to walk off the job Tuesday.

CTU President Karen Lewis has made it clear if there’s no deal by the midnight deadline Monday night, teachers will strike as early as 6 a.m. Tuesday.

“If we cannot secure an agreement, all 28,000 CTU members will go on strike and erect pickets as early as 6 a.m. at all CPS buildings on Tuesday morning,” Lewis said Friday.

Negotiators for the union and the Chicago Board of Education met over the weekend, and the union has said it will continue negotiating right up to the deadline, if necessary.

However, the two sides remained at an impasse as of Monday morning.

Monday morning, many parents and students took their message to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s back yard, staging a protest around the corner from the mayor’s home in Ravenswood. They were hoping to put pressure on the mayor by having conversations with his neighbors, and collecting signatures in support of teachers.

Parents protest outside of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home in Bridgeport on Oct. 10, 2016. | Terry Keshner

Parents protest outside of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home in Bridgeport on Oct. 10, 2016. | Terry Keshner

“The mayor has the power to avert a strike,” CPS parent Erica Hade said. “None of us here want to see a strike, but we also know that the teachers are fighting for what’s best for our children, and the mayor is holding up a settlement.”

The parents and students were calling for a fair contract for teachers; which they said would include no pay cuts, no layoffs, and smaller class sizes at CPS. The demonstrators knocked on doors in Ravenswood, asking for signatures on petitions they plan to drop off at City Hall. The petitions ask the mayor to support an ordinance that would release uncommitted TIF money back to the school district.

CPS teachers have been without a contract since June 2015. The two sides have been unable to agree on terms for salary increases, pensions, and health care.

CPS officials have said the district doesn’t have the money to meet the teachers’ demands, due to budget cuts in recent years, but CTU has said the city can dip into its TIF surplus to make sure all schools are well staffed.

“We want no cuts to our pay and benefits. We want adequate staffing and revenue, so that we can have at least $500 more per student in order to accommodate the needs of our children,” Lewis said.

If teachers do walk out, CPS has said classes will be cancelled, but it will still keep all school buildings open if parents have no alternative. Staff and volunteers will provide movies and other activities to keep kids busy.

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