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Threat of CPS strike reaches DNC in Charlotte

Chicago Teachers Union members and other supporters at a rally at Daley Plaza on Monday. (WBEZ/Becky Vevea; Chip Mitchell)

Some top Chicago Democrats at their party’s national convention in North Carolina are weighing in on the threat of a teachers strike back home.

Supporters of the Chicago Teachers Union spent their Labor Day at a rally in Daley Plaza, a week before the date the union set for a strike if no contract negotiation is reached with Chicago Public Schools. Meanwhile, more than 700 miles away in Charlotte, N.C., some of Chicago’s top Democrats couldn’t avoid questions about the impasse between teachers and Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration.

House Speaker Michael Madigan seemed skeptical a strike would actually happen.

"It’s been 25 years since there was a school strike in Chicago," Madigan said. "And I don’t think either [Chicago Teachers Union President] Karen Lewis or the people at the school board are interested in a strike, if it can be avoided."

Some Republicans have criticized Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for planning to give a speech to the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night, instead of staying home during ongoing negotiations.

But Gov. Pat Quinn supported the mayor.

"I’m sure he has a group - a team - of negotiators, and uh, it’s important to, you know, to come here, and then maybe go back to Chicago," Quinn said.

Mayor Emanuel has shortened his trip to Charlotte, however. He was originally scheduled to leave late Thursday or early Friday, according spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton. He'll now come home late Wednesday night, she said.

But Hamilton said the schedule change had nothing to do with the threat of a teachers strike. She said Emanuel will be hosting a Chicago watch party during President Obama's Thursday night speech for the president's campaign staffers who couldn't make it to the convention in Charlotte.

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