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Latest: No strike for Chicago public school teachers

October 10, 2016 - 10:00 PM

CHICAGO - The Latest on developments as the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools continue to meet in hopes of averting a strike (all times local):

11:55 a.m.

The Chicago Teachers Union says members will not go on strike over contract negotiations with the nation's third-largest school district.

The union had set Tuesday as a strike date, but both sides reached a tentative agreement on Monday night. The decision averts the second major strike for Chicago teachers since 2012.

The district's nearly 400,000 students will be in class Tuesday.

Negotiations had stretched into a second year between the CTU and the financially troubled Chicago Public Schools over pension contributions, pay raises, staffing levels and classroom funding.

Union leaders had said teachers didn't want to strike but were worried about threats to their pay and benefits.

CPS officials had said teachers deserve a raise but that the district is facing massive financial challenges.

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10:15 p.m.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis says the union is reviewing a new contract proposal from Chicago Public Schools that she described as "significantly better" than the offer CPS made and the union rejected earlier this year.

But Lewis said at a news conference late Monday that it was too early to say whether teachers will strike as planned on Tuesday morning.

She says talks could continue until midnight. Asked what she would tell parents wanting to know what will happen, Lewis says "Prepare for the worst and pray for the best."

Some 400,000 students would be affected if the union and the financially struggling school district can't reach a tentative agreement.

CPS says if teachers strike all schools will remain open so students have a safe place to go.

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8:50 p.m.

The Chicago Teachers Union is planning to update the public on negotiations to avert a strike as contract talks are stretching into the evening Monday.

In an emailed statement, CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin says the union will hold a 10 p.m. news conference. But she says negotiations between CTU and Chicago Public Schools could continue until midnight Tuesday.

The union has said teachers will be on picket lines at 6 a.m. Tuesday if the two sides can't reach a tentative agreement on a new contract.

The last contract expired in June 2015.

If teachers strike, it would be the second major work stoppage since 2012 for the nation's third-largest school district.

CPS has said all schools will remain open so the district's roughly 400,000 students would have a safe place to go.

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6 p.m.

A Chicago Public Schools teacher says he and other union members feel like a strike is "our strongest and really our only tool" following years of layoffs and other cuts.

The Chicago Teachers Union and CPS were in contract talks late Monday in hopes of averting a threatened strike set for Tuesday.

Nate Rasmussen is a preschool teacher at Beasley Elementary School on the city's South Side. He's worked for CPS for 16 years and says the job has gotten tougher following 2013 school closures and thousands of layoffs.

Rasmussen says teachers don't want to strike but "enough is enough." He believes CPS and the city have the money to put additional resources into schools and that "it's about priorities."

The union has been working without a contract since June 2015.

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2:45 p.m.

Chicago teachers are picking up signs and T-shirts as they prepare for a potential strike.

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union are set to hit the picket lines at 6 a.m. Tuesday if union negotiators and Chicago Public Schools officials don't strike a tentative deal on a new contract.

Talks were continuing Monday afternoon.

Teachers in the nation's third-largest district have been working without a contract since June 2015. The union wants no cuts to pay or benefits and an additional $200 million in spending to ensure adequate staffing levels.

The financially struggling CPS has said it is working within the framework of an offer it made in January, which included pay increases but required teachers to pay more toward their pensions.

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12:20 p.m.

About two dozen parents have rallied outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home to support the Chicago Teachers Union as its leaders continue to meet with Chicago Public Schools in a bid to hammer out a contract and avoid a teachers' strike.

Monday's gathering in a leafy North Side neighbourhood across the street from Emanuel's home also included children. One held a placard that read, "Parents, Teachers, Students — United."

Organizers also went door to door handing out cards that listed the issues they support, such as a moratorium on charter-schools expansion and no cuts to teachers' pay.

CTU represents about 28,000 members and rejected the district's last offer in February. A strike could begin as early as Tuesday.

Organizer Erica Hade says she lives by a school and sees teachers arriving for work at 6 a.m. and leaving 12 hours later. She asks: "How can parents not be supportive of teachers?"

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7:50 a.m.

Negotiators for the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools continue to meet in an effort to reach a contract and avert a threatened teachers' strike.

The two sides were quiet Sunday, a day after the union's 40-member big bargaining unit met to review its position on a potential contract. The bargaining unit — representing about 28,000 members — rejected the district's last offer in February.

The teachers union has said a strike could begin as early as Tuesday.

Union leaders say they want no cuts to pay or benefits, as well as an additional $200 million in spending to ensure adequate staffing levels.

CPS has said it is working within the framework of an offer it made in January, which included pay increases and a cap on the number of privately operated charter schools in Chicago.

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This item has been corrected to state that the union is asking for $200 million for adequate staffing in addition to no cuts in pay and benefits, not to offset cuts.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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