Teachers union files strike notice to keep contract talks moving

August 29, 2012

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Becky Vevea/WBEZ

Public school teachers in Chicago could walk off the job during the second week of school.

That’s because the Chicago Teachers Union has officially filed a 10-day strike notice with the Illinois Labor Relations Board.

The 10-day strike notice does not necessarily mean teachers will go on strike. It is a legally required step for any teachers union in Illinois, and allows teachers to strike after the 10 days have passed.

Union president Karen Lewis says she filed the strike notice to keep contract talks moving.

“We just need to get this process continuing to move or some people will drag their feet forever,” Lewis said.

Shortly after filing the notice late Wednesday afternoon, Lewis said CPS could have avoided it by listening to the union earlier. The two parties have been negotiating since November.

“They didn’t start negotiating seriously until we put 10,000 people in the street on May 23,” Lewis said. “They didn’t start really negotiating seriously until we took a strike authorization vote. And then again they didn’t start really negotiating seriously until we got the fact-finders report back.”

In a statement, CPS Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard said the district plans to meet with the CTU every day until they can agree on a contract. Less than an hour before Lewis’s filing, Brizard told WBEZ’s Steve Edwards that he has not personally attended a negotiating session.

The union’s House of Delegates meets Thursday night and could decide to set a tentative strike date.

Chicago hasn’t had a teachers strike since 1987.