CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel is defending his trip to the Democratic National Convention while the Chicago Teachers Union is poised for a possible strike.

As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports from Charlotte, N.C., after speaking to Illinois convention delegates, Mayor Emanuel fielded questions about criticism from some that he should not have come to the political gathering the strike looms and street violence continues.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

“Negotiators are at the table where they should be at, as they have throughout the weekend working on the issues, and I was with the kids at schools opening those schools,” Emanuel said.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who is also at the convention, says he is not concerned.

“I think everybody’s working really hard, and I have a lot of confidence that good things will happen,” Duncan said.

The mayor says he is in touch with negotiators about the teachers’ contract, and police officials about the continuing incidents of street violence.

Emanuel is already spending less time at the convention than originally planned. But an aide said that had nothing to do with the looming teacher strike or the violence crisis.

Ald. Carrie Austin, who also was at the DNC, was pessimistic that a strike can be averted. But Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, says it’s premature to make any predictions. He’s glad that both sides are working hard on a contract deal.

Also Wednesday, Chicago Congressman Luis Gutierrez made a surprise appearance at the DNC. He says he was supposed to be on the road campaigning for the president this week, but he was brought in to counter all the Latinos who spoke at the Republican National Convention last week.

Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod asked him to adjust.

“I always said I’ll do anything the campaign asks me to do. They asked me to come,” Gutierrez tells CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine.

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