Striking Chicago teachers: We'll return if classes made up

Striking Chicago teachers: We'll return if classes made up

SeattlePI.com

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CHICAGO (AP) — The union representing 25,000 striking Chicago's teachers voted to approve a tentative contract agreement with city officials but refused to end a strike that has canceled two weeks of classes unless the city's mayor adds school days to cover that lost time.

Elected delegates for the Chicago Teachers Union voted Wednesday night to accept a tentative agreement with the nation's third-largest school district but say they won't come back without Mayor Lori Lightfoot's commitment. The union also encouraged members to fill the streets outside City Hall on Thursday, hoping to pressure Lightfoot into accepting its terms.

The impasse cancelled classes for an 11th day on Thursday for more than 300,000 students.

Lightfoot, in sometimes heated remarks, said Wednesday night that she would not meet the union's demand. Lightfoot accused the union's top leadership of "moving the goal posts" by raising the issue Wednesday rather than in a face-to-face meeting with her on Tuesday.

"Not once during that three-and-a-half-hour meeting did they raise compensation for strike days," Lightfoot. "Not once."

Lightfoot has refused strike to lengthen the school year to make up days since the strike began Oct. 17. Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson said it would require cutting winter or spring break days or adding days to the end of the year.

Union president Jesse Sharkey said the teachers are not asking to be paid for a strike but do credit the walkout for forcing the district to compromise on some contract issues.

"Over the past two weeks we have obtained gains that are meaningful for students that will make schools better for years to come," he said. "The commitment for nurses, social workers and resources to help homeless students are things that wouldn't have been accomplished if we hadn't walked the picket...

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