UPDATED 09/07/12 4:48 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — The countdown continues for a potential teacher strike, but both sides are using words like “hopeful” and “optimistic” to describe the state of the negotiations as it stands now.
As CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, it is only about three days until teachers could walk off the job, starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday.
But representatives from the union and the school district started talking at 10 a.m. Friday, and late Friday afternoon the Chicago Teachers Union released a statement saying, “contract talks remain hopeful, but strike plans continue.”
The two sides say they are still trying to resolve issues over wages, teacher evaluation, and how teachers are recalled for work after layoffs.
The teachers and Chicago Public Schools officials are trying to hammer out a four-year agreement that will keep 30,000 teachers, counselors and other educational professions on the job, and 350,000 students in class.
On the CBS 2 Morning News Friday, Michael Brunson, the union’s reporting secretary, summed up the union’s take on the talks.
“We have been bargaining out feverishly. We start out early in the day. We end late in the evening,” Brunson said, “and we’re making small gains, but they’re still not enough. Still not enough.”
Later in the day, Chicago School Board President David Vitale expressed confidence that the school year would begin on time.
“Yes, our students will be in school Monday morning,” Vitale said. “On the big issues, we’ve closed the gap fairly significantly; maybe not 100 percent. And so we have to work a little bit more on the big issues. But we put stuff on the table, and I think they’ve been responsive in ways that say these are gaps that can be filled.”
Vitale said how long the talks will continue Friday night depends on progress. Negotiations will continue over the weekend.
The three possible scenarios are a strike, no strike, or school continuing because talks are still in progress.