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Chicago Teachers Vote to End Strike (But Not the Fight)

Not a 'perfect contract' says union leader, but teachers 'thrilled to get back' to classrooms

Common Dreams staff

Chicago Teachers Union members strike outside the Chicago Public Schools headquarters in Chicago September 18, 2012. (REUTERS/John Gress)

The Chicago Teachers Union voted late Tuesday afternoon to end their labor strike which has lasted more than a week and return to their classrooms on Wednesday morning.

The union conceded that it was time to end the strike. Though they did not achieve all their demands, they confirmed that their fight for better schools, increased services for their students, and fair treatment for teaching professionals and their support staff would continue.

As the Chicago Tribune reports:

The voice vote was taken after some 800 delegates convened at a union meeting hall near Chinatown to discuss and debate a tentative contract. Union leaders had already signed off on the agreement with Chicago Public Schools.

"We said we couldn't solve all the problems. . .and it was time to suspend the strike," CTU President Karen Lewis said at a news conference after the vote.

“The issue is, we cannot get a perfect contract. There’s no such thing as a contract that will make all of us” happy, Lewis said.

But “do we stay on strike forever until every little thing we want can be gotten?” she said.

“I’m so thrilled that people are going back, all of our members are glad to be back with their kids. It’s a hard decision to make to go out, and for some people it's hard to make the decision to go back in,” Lewis said.

Delegates poured out of the union hall singing “Solidarity Forever.”

“I'm very excited. I miss my students. I'm relieved because I think this contract was better than what they offered,” said America Olmedo, who teaches fourth- and fifth-grade bilingual classes. “They tried to take everything away.”

Said Shay Porter, a teacher at the Henderson Academy elementary school: “We ignited the labor movement in Chicago.”

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