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World/National News

September 17, 2012

Chicago teachers strike extended as union studies proposed contract

CHICAGO — The Chicago teachers strike will continue today after the union’s House of Delegates refused to halt the walkout and sent the work stoppage into its second week.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said yesterday that the delegates could vote Tuesday to end the strike, meaning that classes could resume Wednesday.

Members wanted more time to digest the details of a contract offer, Lewis said.

“They’re not happy with the agreement. They’d like it to be a lot better for us than it is,” Lewis said.

The potential for 120 school closings in the coming years also has caused concern.

“It undergirds everything they talk about,” Lewis said.

The union’s delegates, numbering more than 700, have the authority to end the strike but not to approve the contract. The union’s full membership of roughly 26,000 teachers and paraprofessionals would vote later on the contract.

The proposed contract is for three years, with an option for a fourth year that both the Chicago Public Schools and union would have to agree to. There would be 3 percent raises in the first and fourth years, and 2 percent raises in the second and third years, according to the union.

Raises given for years of service and continuing education, would be preserved under the contract, according to the union. And the three highest steps would be increased.

The union also said it had agreed with CPS officials on the issues of performance reviews and teacher recall when schools close. Standards for teacher evaluations that could lead to firings would be eased, and some higher-rated teachers could get a better shot at being recalled after layoffs, sources said.

By refusing to call off the strike, the union continues months of public sparring between union leaders and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose education agenda centered on lengthening what had been among one of the shortest public school days in the country.

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