A weekend of continued negotiations and the presentation of an outlined draft agreement was not enough to end the city-wide teachers strike in Chicago.
Teachers say they need time to consider the proposal for all their members, but Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel grew increasingly impatient over the delay and has indicated he will push for a legal injunction to end the strike.
Some 800 delegates of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), representatives from each school and workplace met on Sunday to discuss the framework established during negotiations between the union and the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Delegate were presented with a 23-page document outlining the most important points of the agreement whose outline has been negotiated by union officers and city school officials.
Though unclear whether or not the union would approve the contract, CTU President Karen Lewis revealed initial disappointments.
"They're not happy with the agreement. They'd like it to be a lot better for us than it is," Lewis said. "This is the deal we got. This is not a good deal by any stretch of the imagination, not (compared) to what our members are (used) to having."
Lewis announced the union would need more time to give its member an opportunity to assess the details of the agreement.
“This union is a democratic institution, which values the opportunity for all members to make decisions together. The officers of this union follow the lead of our members,” President Lewis said. She continued, “the issues raised in this contract were too important, had consequences too profound for the future of our public education system and for educational fairness for our students, parents and members for us to simply take a quick vote based on a short discussion. Therefore, a clear majority voted to take this time and we are unified in this decision.”
Emanuel, however, as the Chicago Tribune reports, called upon CPS officials "to explore every action possible" to return students to school. He has maintained for over a week that the two major sticking points in negotiations — evaluations and the ability to recall teachers who have been laid off — are not legal grounds for a work stoppage.
"I will not stand by while the children of Chicago are played as pawns in an internal dispute within a union," Emanuel said in a released statement.
The union delegates will reconvene on Tuesday afternoon for a vote.
Video of CTU President Karen Lewis speaking at a rally on Saturday:
# # #