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Chicago Students Will Return to School Friday

Teachers strike ends after 11 days of canceled classes
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2019 3:48 PM CDT
Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson, left, and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot hold a press conference at City Hall to discuss the latest impasse with the Chicago Teachers Union about making up days...   (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP)

(Newser) – Chicago teachers and the nation's third-largest school district reached a labor contract deal on Thursday, ending a strike that canceled 11 days of classes for more than 300,000 students, the AP reports. Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that the district had reached a deal with the Chicago Teachers Union after months of unsuccessful negotiations led to the city's first significant walkout by educators since 2012. The union's 25,000 members went on strike Oct. 17, holding marches and rallies across the city. Chicago Teachers Union delegates voted late Wednesday to approve a tentative deal, but they initially refused to end the strike unless the mayor added school days to cover the lost time. The union said Lightfoot had agreed to make up five days of lost time. The school district said classes will resume Friday.

Teachers said the strike was based on a "social justice" agenda and aimed to increase resources, including nurses and social workers for students, and reduce class sizes, which teachers say currently exceed 30 or 40 students in some schools. Union leaders said the strike forced the city to negotiate on issues they initially deemed out of bounds, including support for homeless students. The strike was another test of efforts by teachers' unions to use contract talks typically focused on salaries and benefits and force sweeping conversations about broader problems. The agreement approved on Wednesday was not immediately released but Sharkey said some of teachers' wins could "transform" schools in the district. The full union membership still must hold a final vote on the agreement. Broad outlines include a 16% raise for teachers during the five-year contract, a new committee to investigate and enforce classroom sizes that surpass limits in the agreement, and funding to add social workers and nurses to the city's schools. (Read more Chicago stories.)

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