Chicago Teachers Union Will Continue Strike; Earliest Classes Could Resume Is Wednesday

 @ericbrownzzz
on September 16 2012 9:00 PM
Chicago Teachers Union members leave a House of Delegates meeting in Chicago on Sunday, the seventh day of their first strike in 25 years.
Chicago Teachers Union members leave a House of Delegates meeting in Chicago on Sunday, the seventh day of their first strike in 25 years. The majority of the 800 delegates at the meeting voted to continue the walkout for at least two more days. Reuters

The Chicago Teachers Union will continue its strike after its House of Delegates voted Sunday to take the outline of a tentative collective-bargaining agreement to members on the picket lines during the next couple of days.

Accordingly, the Chicago Public Schools will remain closed until at least Wednesday.

The CTU has been on strike since Sept. 10, effectively shutting down the entire city's educational system just after school resumed following the summer break. More than 350,000 students have been affected. Had the delegates voted to suspend the walkout Sunday, classes would have resumed Monday.

The CTU has been looking for a contract with incremental pay raises and more job security, as well as without "differentiated compensation," which would have allowed school-system officials to pay teachers at different rates based on unknown criteria.

A list of the tentative agreement's provisions can be found on the CTU website.

CTU President Karen Lewis said the union's members needed more time to discuss the proposed contract.

"Our members are not happy," Lewis said, according to the Associated Press. "They want to know if there is anything more they can get. They feel rushed."

Schools will be closed Monday and Tuesday, and union delegates will hold another meeting on Tuesday night.

"We felt more comfortable being able to take back what's on the table and let our constituents look at it and digest it. We can have a much better decision come Tuesday," Dean Refakes, a physical-education teacher and delegate, was quoted as saying by AP.

The CTU strike is its first in 25 years.

Many parents are unhappy about the walkout, which has left them unsure of what to do with their children during the day.

"It's very frustrating," parent Humberto Ramirez told the Chicago Tribune. "We all kind of put everything on hold in finding different ways to watch the kids and keep them entertained. It's been very, very frustrating, especially knowing that earlier [this week] that they were close, that they were simply going to be putting it to a vote. It certainly sounded as though they were very, very close, and they were simply then dotting their I's and crossing their T's."

Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has angrily responded to the CTU's continuation of the strike, saying he will file a court injunction to force an a quick conclusion to the walkout, according to the Tribune, which cited the following statement by the city's CEO: "I have instructed the city's corporation counsel to work with the general counsel of Chicago Public Schools to file an injunction in circuit court to immediately end this strike and get our children back in the classroom."

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