By Mike Puccinelli


CHICAGO (CBS) — A third day of negotiations is in the books and still no deal between the city and the Chicago Teachers Union.

The two sides are set to resume negotiating again on the Near West Side Sunday. At this point it’s not clear what time.

What is clear is that some progress was made today.

When asked how long the team negotiated today, CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said, “I don’t know, long enough.”

Sources say face-to-face negotiations lasted fewer than seven hours today. The mayor would like to see the sessions go longer — 10 hours per day.

“We’ve got to be at the table to be able to get a deal done,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

But Gates said across-the-table negotiating has been going on now for months.

“It didn’t start yesterday, it didn’t start last week, it started 10 months ago. We came to the table in earnest with proposals,” Gates said. “We were rebuffed, we were told no, we were given the runaround.”

But now she says CPS is making concrete proposals. She says the two sides reached a tentative agreement on eight different items today, including a plan to reverse what she says is the precipitous decline of teachers of color and a moratorium on charter schools.

Still, the more than 360,000 kids are unlikely to be back in class at the beginning of the week.

“I would be very surprised if classes are gonna be open on Monday,” Lightfoot said. “We’ll check in with CPS and we’ll make sure we get the word out one way or another, but my expectation is that we will not be back in class on Monday.”

Gates, whose three kids are also out of school right now, says she can empathize with parents dealing with the hardship of a strike.

“I am hopeful that our movement can continue at the table and that we’ll get somewhere on getting this contract,” Gates said.

Mayor Lightfoot and CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson released a statement late Saturday saying, in part:

“While we continue to bargain in good faith and have made progress, we still have not received full, written counteroffers on class size or staffing – the two core issues that CTU has identified as being essential to resolve in order to reach an agreement.”

“These negotiations must move more swiftly so that we can get students back into school as fast as possible. Our team has been turning around thoughtful counteroffers at a rapid pace. We are hopeful that CTU will meet that pace tomorrow so we can bring this process to a fair and responsible end.”

Beyond a disagreement about salaries, CPS and CTU are at odds about staffing issues, class sizes, and other matters.

CPS has been offering the union a 16% total raise over the life of a five-year contract, while CTU has called for a 15% total raise over a three-year deal — a shorter contract, with higher average raises per year.

The union also is demanding increased staffing of nurses, social workers, librarians, clinicians and case managers. CTU has said it might be open to phasing in more of those staff, but the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement on how to do so before the strike deadline.

Teachers also have demanded contract guarantees to reduce class sizes. They say 1,300 classrooms are overcrowded. At the elementary level, they want student counts to be limited to maximum of 24.

Mike Puccinelli