No classes Thursday; CTU says they reached tentative agreement, but not ‘return to work’ agreement

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CHICAGO — Classes were canceled for what will now be the 11th day on Thursday after the Chicago Teachers Union said they reached a tentative contract agreement with Chicago Public Schools, but will not be returning to work Thursday.

On Wednesday night, the CTU's House of Delegates met to vote on Mayor Lori Lightfoot's latest offer to end the now 10-day strike. Around 8:30 p.m., the CTU tweeted that a tentative agreement was reached, but said they did not have a "return to work" agreement.

Jesse Sharkey, CTU president, said CTU delegates would not be returning to work unless there was a provision made to allow teachers to make up the lost instructional days. He said the mayor has said they will not be allowed to do so.

"We do not understand why the mayor cannot simply call and say, 'We'll give you an agreement to make up the instructional time,'" Sharkey said.

He said if the mayor calls Wednesday evening, and says there is an agreement to make up the lost days, the teachers will return to work Thursday. However, he said if she does not call, the strike will continue.

The mayor spoke shortly after CTU officials and said CPS has given the union a "historic deal."

She said during her three and a half hour long meeting with Sharkey and CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates, Sharkey laid out four issues he believed would result in a deal. She said Gates added two more.

The mayor said Sharkey gave her his word that those six issues were the last ones that they needed to resolve.

"Not once during the three and a half hour meeting did they raise compensation during the strike," Lightfoot said.

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Lightfoot said she has made it clear from Day 1 that CPS would not be making up days lost during the strike.

The State of Illinois requires at least 180 school days a year. CPS had eight emergency days built into the schedule. The missed days could be made up starting June 19.

The Board of Education will vote on when to add days during its meeting on Nov. 20.

There were seven days lost during the 2012 teachers strike. Those were made up by shortening winter break and adding days at the end of the year.

Lightfoot said she has given the CTU what she promised to give them during her campaign, and now wants them to follow suit.

"Give our kids, and our parents and our tax payers what you promised," she said. "We will push forward and we will be back at the table with a goal of getting our students back in class."

The CTU said they plan to be at City Hall Thursday at 10 a.m. and continue their strike to ask the mayor to make up the missed schooldays.

According to a source, the contract the union presented to the House of Delegates was a five-year deal, not the three-year deal the union was originally asking for. 

On Tuesday, the mayor released a draft of the latest offer to the union, which includes:

  • 16% pay raise over five years, which CPS says would raise the average teacher's salary to almost $100,000 a year.
  • Commitment to putting a nurse and a social worker in every school.
  • $35 million to reducing class sizes, which is $10 million more than the last offer.

However, the CTU said it's looking for an agreement on a wide range of issues including that Lightfoot support state legislation to elect rather than appoint the district's school board.

After the House of Delegates' vote, the contract then has to be presented to rank-and-file teachers.

CTU members rallied Wednesday afternoon near “The 78” development at State State and Roosevelt Road.

About 300,000 students have been affected by the strike.

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