Negotiations continue as teachers strike deadline looms

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CHICAGO --Negotiations between the teacher’s union and the Chicago Public Schools continued today as both sides are under considerably more pressure to come to an agreement if they hope to avoid a teacher’s strike that could shut down Chicago schools just six weeks into the new school year.

The basic problem, comes down to math and how to add money to teachers paychecks at a time when the city has less of it to give.

For a year, negotiators for the CPS have wrangled with representatives of the teachers union over pay raises, health insurance, and pension contributions.

Seeing no progress, the teachers union voted overwhelmingly to approve a strike starting on October 11.

Today, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the a strike could be avoided if the teachers are willing to accept an offer they first agreed to, then rejected, last winter.

“This notion of taking a strike is one of choice, not of necessity, because you have a 13 percent pay raise on the table,” he said.

Emanuel said he’ll personally be involved in negotiations if called upon.

Meanwhile parents and families are bracing themselves for headaches and hardships that come with finding childcare during a strike.

“We’ll have a contingency plan that will be shared with principals and parents next week in the event that there is a strike,” CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said.

Gov Bruce Rauner blamed a potential strike on what he called the district’s financial mismanagement saying today, “I think a strike would be terrible for the children of Chicago and would be terrible for the homeowners and taxpayers. It would be a very tragic event.”

CPS says it will be at the bargaining table every day until an agreement is reached.