9th day of teachers strike and still no deal

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CHICAGO — Nine days after walking off the job, there is still no contract deal for Chicago teachers.

Chicago Teachers Union president Jesse Sharkey spoke to reporters late Friday evening and said after a full day of talks there has yet to be an agreement.

“We spent a long day of bargaining. Had some progress,” he said.

Sharkey said there are a small number of issues remaining, but important ones.

“You start getting to the stuff that matters the most but is the hardest,” he said. “Bargaining at that point can be an exercise in trying to manage your emotions, stay cool and work hard.  So that’s where we’re at right now. … Hopefully we can get over the hump.  The plan for the weekend is to work… and try to secure an agreement that looks like justice in our schools for our members and our students.”

CPS officials also spoke to the media and said Friday’s talks were focused on bigger issues of class size and staffing.

“We’re being very hopeful and very diligent,” said CPS chief education officer LaTanya McDade said.

“And it’s about give-and-take at this point,” Deputy Mayor for Education Sybil Madison said. “It’s not just about money. It’s a give-and-take.”

Earlier in the day, CTU and Service Employees International Union gathered Friday afternoon at Buckingham Fountain and marched through the South Loop.

Classes were canceled again Friday after Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach a deal to end a week-long strike in the nation’s third-largest school district

Sharkey joined teachers for a rally at Lane Tech High School Friday morning, sounding a note of optimism.

“Right now we have progress. I’m not going to say more than that, we’re in a sensitive junction right now and I’m optimistic,” Sharkey said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot indicated that if a deal wasn’t done Friday it, the strike could drag on for several more days.

As of Friday, the strike has matched the length of the 2012 strike, which had kids out of school for seven days.

About 25,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike Oct. 17, canceling school for more than 300,000 students. The union is expressing hope that classes could resume Monday, however, members will continue picketing until there is a deal.

Among those feeling the fallout are student-athletes, who under state rules may not be allowed to participate in upcoming state competitions in cross country, football and other sports if the strike continues.

That prompted legal action Thursday, as the parent of a sophomore cross country team member filed a request for a temporary restraining order in Cook County Court to allow the Jones College Prep team to compete in state playoffs this weekend. Kevin Sterling, who is an attorney, said some athletes had college scholarships on the line, and that the kids had become “collateral damage” in the dispute between CPS and the union.

The strike has also taken a toll on students who have to take college entrance exams. The ACT was supposed to be given to hundreds of students Saturday, but that has been postponed.

There are plans for a rally Saturday at Union Park.


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