The ongoing drama between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union cooled off a little over the weekend.
The two sides exchanged heated threats last week when schools chief Forrest Claypool first announced a couple dozen layoffs and a plan to cut teachers take-home pay 7 percent. He’d do that by eliminating the school district’s practice of picking up part of the employee’ pension contribution.
The union said if the district eliminated the pension pick-up the teachers would go on strike on April 1.
Claypool then announced three furlough days, cancelling school on Good Friday and eliminating two paid work days after the end of the school year.
CTU president Karen Lewis said those moves only strengthened the union’s “resolve to shut down the school district on April 1st.”
But on Friday, Claypool said he wouldn’t eliminate the pension pick-up until formal mediation, known as fact finding, is done. In response, the union walked back its strike threat on April 1, though some other action may be planned.
A third-party mediator is set to make his recommendations in mid-April. According to the timeline set forth in state law, the union could strike in mid-May.
The last time the teachers went on strike, a third-party mediator issued recommendations that were more favorable to the union than to the district, but both sides rejected the suggestions.
On Monday morning, Lewis said the two parties are still meeting as they await the fact-finder’s recommendations.
“We’re probably going to try to give (the district) something Thursday in response to what they’ve come to us with,” Lewis said at a conference of parents who work in the schools, known as parent mentors.
Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her @WBEZeducation.