Public schools in Chicago are shut from 10 days straight, as thousands of teachers demanding negotiations to the Chicago Public School’s (CPS) contract remain on a strike. On Wednesday, leaders of the 25,000-member Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) reportedly approved a tentative deal with the district. However, they demanded the mayor to make up for the loss of pay and instructional days during the walkout, and refused to return to work until then.
The dispute came up after the expiration of the CPS deal, when the revised deal on pay and healthcare was rejected by the union. However, both the union and the district remain at odds, despite constant dialogue on several issues. Besides, the CTU was also seeking a contract that runs three years instead of five. Consequently, Chicago teachers clogged the traffic and went down on streets, cancelling classes for 300,000 students.
Despite the tentative labor deal negotiation, the Chicago Public Schools district, US’ third-largest also issued a separate statement, stating that the strike would continue an 11th school day.
The final demand of the CTU was immediately rejected by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who accused its leaders of breaching the agreement reached at the bargaining table. In late-night remarks live-streamed on her official Twitter account, Lightfoot said, “We’ve given them a historic deal by any measure. The fact that our children aren’t back in school tomorrow is on them.”
“I’m not compensating for days they were out on strike,” she added.
While a tentative agreement was proposed, no terms were disclosed. Though, some union leaders initially expressed their enthusiasm on the settlement. “The CTU may have reached a monumental agreement,” wrote the union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates on Twitter.
After debating over the tentative deal for hours in private, the union leaders emerged to call on the member to continue the strike on Thursday, in order to press their demand for extending the school calendar to offset days missed during the strike.
“We have a tentative agreement, but we do not have a return-to-work agreement. So we will be at City Hall at 10 a.m. to demand the mayor return our days,” the union said on Twitter.
On the other hand, the mayor said that the district cannot afford CTU’s full demands, as it would exceed the current school budget of $7.7 billion.