Chicago Teachers Strike: Day 9

ctu march
Teachers, support staff and their supporters march in the Loop on Oct. 18. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
ctu march
Teachers, support staff and their supporters march in the Loop on Oct. 18. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

Chicago Teachers Strike: Day 9

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Updated 9:45 a.m. Tuesday

Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union bargained for 16 hours on Monday but failed to land a contract deal, leaving 300,000 students out of class for a ninth day.

The teachers union leadership had said that it was not going to leave the negotiations until a deal was worked out.

But after 2 a.m. early Tuesday, they left.

The union’s attorney said Mayor Lori Lightfoot has a proposal in front of her that “provides a path to a settlement.” He said the distance between the two sides on money had narrowed, but he did not elaborate.

Chicago Public School officials said the two are the closest they’ve ever been on remedies for overcrowded classes and money for staffing increases.

But the union won’t back off its demand that elementary school teachers get 30 minutes more prep time each day. School district officials say they oppose this because it would cut into student instructional time.

They say they are far apart on this and a few other issues.

As talks got underway for the evening, the union was focused on news that the city was charging the school district almost $100 million for pension costs and to station police in the schools.

Union leaders were arguing that the money should stay with the school district — and it could potentially be used to cover the $38 million the union says it needs to reach a contract deal.

In its 2020 budget proposal, the mayor wants to force Chicago Public Schools to reimburse it for a $60 million pension contribution for CPS employees covered by one of the city’s pension funds. In the past, the city has covered this for the school district.

This is on top of $33 million the city already bills the school district to pay for Chicago police officers stationed in schools. These charges come as the city is facing an historic $838 million deficit.

CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said the city should not be balancing its books on the “backs of our children.”

“We want a deal tonight,” she said around 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Earlier in the night, CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade repeated what she’s been saying the last several days: The city already has committed nearly $500 million to the contract for its last year, and that’s all that’s available if CPS is to remain fiscally responsible. This offer meets CTU’s demands, she argued.

The school district released a breakdown of the $485 million it says is included in its offer to the teachers union.

The lion’s share — $375 million — is for 16% salary increases over five years. Another $70 million is to hire a nurse and a social worker in every school and other staff, including homeless coordinators and special education case managers. Some $25 million is set aside to address overcrowded classrooms along with $10 million for “community schools” and $5 million for sports programs

The day began with Gov. JB Pritzker weighing in on the strike. “It’s gone on too long,” he said.

On Tuesday, Instead of picketing, the Chicago Teachers Union is organizing a march to the proposed North Side Lincoln Yards site, which is slated to receive city tax increment financing dollars. Teachers are gathering at various locations near the site at 8 a.m. to begin their march.

Correction: This story has been updated to give the correct figure for the amount Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants Chicago Public Schools to reimburse the city for its pension contribution for CPS employees.

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