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Monday, September 10, 2012

Chicago Teachers on Strike, Picket Lines Form

Weekend negotiations fail to resolve issues...

"Rahm says cut back, we say fight back," picketers chanted this morning outside Chicago Public Schools headquarters. This hard line stance has many shaking their heads as ever shrinking budgets leave little room for increases in salary and benefits.
Chicago Public School Board President David Vitale said a 16% pay raise over four years and a host of benefit proposals were as far as the district could go in meeting Chicago Teachers Union demands. “This is about as much as we can do,” Vitale said. “There is only so much money in the system.This is not a small commitment we're handing out at a time when our fiscal situation is really challenged.” CTU President Karen Lewis said the two sides are close on teacher compensation but the union has serious concerns about the cost of health benefits, the makeup of the teacher evaluation system and job security. "This is a difficult decision and one we hoped we could have avoided," she said. "We must do things differently in this city if we are to provide our students with the education they so rightfully deserve." Lewis said she would not prioritize the issues, saying that they all were important to teachers.
 Mayor Rahm Emanuel condemned the union's decision, and said the negotiations could be resolved if the two sides kept talking, "given how close we are." 
 "This is not a strike I wanted," Emanuel said. "It was a strike of choice ... it's unnecessary, it's avoidable and it's wrong. "