Chicago teachers are carrying on with their strike while they consider Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s latest contract proposal, meaning 300,000 students will miss their 10th day of classes Wednesday.
Chicago Teachers Union leaders huddled with the union’s governing body Tuesday evening to discuss the state of negotiations with Chicago Public Schools and gauge the 700-member governing body’s willingness to carry on with the second-longest teachers strike in the city’s history.
After leaving the meeting without any conclusive decision about the mayor’s new offer, the CTU’s bargaining team is heading back to negotiations Wednesday morning while the union’s 25,000 teachers are expected to look over what’s on the table. CTU officials told delegates to be prepared to reconvene for a potential strike-ending vote in the evening if a tentative agreement is reached with CPS in the morning or early afternoon.
Union president Jesse Sharkey said “it’s possible” there could be an agreement and subsequent vote tomorrow. He added that “a lot has been achieved in these negotiations.”
As for Tuesday’s meeting, CTU vice president Stacy Davis Gates said Lightfoot set up “unfair expectations” that the strike could be called off there.
“This meeting was about a discussion with members who are on strike so they can be fortified, so they can understand, so they can have clarity about what was happening during our negotiations,” Davis Gates said.
Once official word came from the CTU meeting Tuesday night that the strike would go on, CPS canceled classes for another day, threatening some CPS football teams’ chances to go to the playoffs. PSAT exams, used to determine National Merit Scholars for college admissions, were rescheduled.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot hand-delivered her new proposal Tuesday afternoon to the top leaders of the CTU — an offer that included $15 million more than the $485 million she had offered previously — in an effort to end the strike that has roiled the city for nearly two weeks.
But the mayor and the union officials walked out of their second City Hall meeting of the day without a tentative agreement ahead of the delegates’ meeting.
At a news conference less than an hour before the union meeting, Lightfoot said union leaders had “reached out in good faith” earlier in the morning to try to get a deal done.
“We cleared our schedules and met with CTU leadership for three and a half hours,” the mayor told reporters at City Hall. “We listened to them. They told us about five outstanding issues, and we moved our position even further to where CTU said it was most critical to getting this deal done.
The offer, labeled a “proposed tentative agreement,” includes: A five year-deal with 16% pay raises over that term, a nurse and social worker in every school by July 2023 and millions more than previously offered to address overcrowded classes,
“CPS is willing to invest $35 million in class size supports, $10 million above the last offer,” the document reads.
In exchange for that new money, the mayor asked the union to drop its remaining demands on teacher preparation time and two items in Springfield: Her support on the CTU’s bill for an elected school board and amending a decades-old bill that rolled back the union’s collective bargaining rights.
In addition, the mayor is willing to give $5 million for additional pay raises for highest paid teachers and another $5 million for coaching stipends and sports equipment.
Other details of the offer
The mayor’s offer includes “enforceable staffing increases,” including:
• 209 additional social worker positions by July 30, 2023
• 250 additional nursing positions by July 30, 2023
• 180 additional case manager positions by July 30, 2023, with 280 case managers by the end of the term of the contract
• 120 new “equity positions” by 2022-23 school year for the highest needs schools, including counselors, restorative justice coordinators and librarians.
It also raises the salaries of some of the lowest paid workers, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel. They will get pay increases of nearly 40% during the contract and get ability to make more money based on additional certifications.
The contract says the proposal keeps “its current offers above and all of the tentative agreements reached, in exchange for the CTU dropping its remaining outstanding proposals.”