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Teacher Contract Talks Continue As Threat of Strike Looms

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Payton members of the Chicago Teachers Union show their union pride this week ahead of the first day of school on Tuesday. (Photo by Jason Chau)

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By Will Foster ’20

As Payton teachers returned to school this week to prep for the first day of classes on Tuesday, leaders of their union continued to negotiate with the City of Chicago over a new contract.

Chicago Teachers Union members are currently working without a contract, after the previous deal expired at the end of June. That 2016 agreement itself narrowly averted a strike, as late-night negotiations yielded a deal just minutes before a midnight deadline.

CTU members could strike as early as September 26 after union leaders on Monday rejected a deal proposed by an independent fact-finder.

“Though the wage and benefits will be said to be generous by the mayor and CPS’ team, they come in the context of nearly a decade of austerity and cuts for Chicago’s teachers and other school staff,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said, WBEZ reported. “We have endured three freezes … and layoffs and other cuts, including cuts to our benefits, which makes conditions in the Chicago Public Schools, for the people who do the work in those schools, extremely difficult.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Lori Lightfoot urged the CTU to accept the $351 million contract. “There’s no reason a deal can’t be reached by the start of the school year,” Lightfoot said Monday, according to the Sun-Times. “There’s no reason there should be a strike. We have 30 days to get the job done. We could get this done today. We’ve put, I think, a very robust offer on the table.”

The latest offer would raise teacher pay by 16% over five years. The union wants a 15% increase over three years, among other commitments from the city.

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