Chicago teachers' strike to go on

Sept. 16, 2012 at 10:56 PM
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CHICAGO, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- The Chicago Teachers Union said Sunday night the teachers' strike will disrupt a second week of classes while members review the district's offer.

The teachers union's decision not to send their members back to work Monday prompted Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to vow to seek a court injunction that would force the teachers back into the classroom, the Chicago Tribune reported. The mayor said the walkout is illegal because it is over issues state law does not allow strikes over and because it "endangers the health and safety of our children."

"I will not stand by while the children of Chicago are played as pawns in an internal dispute within a union," Emanuel said. "This was a strike of choice and is now a delay of choice that is wrong for our children. Every day our kids are kept out of school is one more day we fail in our mission: to ensure that every child in every community has an education that matches their potential.

"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."

The newspaper said city schools will remain closed at least until Wednesday after the union's House of Delegates refused to end the walkout because members indicated they needed more time to read and understand the details of the proposed agreement.

"They're not happy with the agreement. They'd like it to be a lot better for us than it is," union President Karen Lewis said.

Lewis said there would not be any further negotiations for now but that union leaders would finish up the contract language, which had not been finished as of Sunday.

The union delegates' vote will be Tuesday because Monday is the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

The strike in the nation's third-largest school district affects about 350,000 students and 26,000 teachers.

Details released just before midnight Saturday showed the tentative deal calls for a three-year contract with an option for a fourth year, with a 3 percent increase in the first and fourth years and 2 percent raises in the second and third years, the Tribune said.

"Step and lane" increases given out for years of teaching and continuing education would be saved, and standards for teacher evaluations that could lead to firings would be relaxed, the newspaper said.

The city did get a longer school day, the newspaper said, and principals will still have a lot of authority when hiring teachers.

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