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Chicago Teachers Union plans strike vote on Dec. 9: report

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis. | Ashlee Rezin/For the Sun-Times

NBC 5 news reported Sunday night that the Chicago Teachers Union has set a strike vote for Dec. 9.

A practice strike vote was taken in early November, and while the word “strike” did not appear on the ballot, it was considered a preview for what’s to come. In that vote, 97% of CTU members said then they would vote to authorize a strike if needed.

CTU officials did not respond to calls and emails from the Chicago Sun-Times seeking comment on the strike vote. No one from the CTU would confirm that date, and it has not communicated any strike vote date to teachers.

At a Grant Park rally last Monday night, CTU President Karen Lewis said teachers don’t want to strike, as they did in 2012, but they will, if they must to protect “our professions and our classrooms,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported that night.

In front of a crowd of thousands who braved a frigid night to show their strength, and joined by legislators, pastors and other labor leaders, Lewis said, “It is time for us to act.”

“We must show the city, the mayor’s handpicked Board of Education and even our students and parents that Chicago’s public school educators will stand up for what is just and fair, and together we will fight to protect our professions and our classrooms,” Lewis said.

“No teacher wants to go on strike,” she continued, as the crowd bundled up in the union’s signature red shouted, “No”.

“We prefer to be in front of our students, but we know that when we must, we will withhold our labor. Because this is the root of our power as organized labor, and if we must strike, we do so to protect the interests of our students.”

The CTU still has no contract to replace the one that expired June 30. Negotiations continue at what Chicago Public Schools characterizes at “a normal pace,” but lately with help from a mediator. And CPS still needs $480 million to fill its current budget hole, money it’s been seeking in vain from Springfield. The district says it’ll have to borrow more money and make deep cuts if help doesn’t come through.

Contributing: Lauren FitzPatrick