America

No Deal: Chicago Teachers To Strike After Contract Talks Fail

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has said, "No [Chicago Teachers Union] members will be inside of our schools Monday," after contract negotiations failed to reach a deal that would prevent a labor strike, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Lewis said those union teachers will on the picket line.

As Becky Vevea reported for Weekend Edition Sunday, 25,000 teachers are planning to walk off the job over issues that include benefits and job security.

"[Mayor] Rahm Emanuel is pushing for big changes: a longer school day and year, a new system for evaluating teachers and a whole new way to pay teachers. ...

"[Teachers] want smaller class sizes, more art and music, and job protection when the district shuts down low-performing schools and opens privately run charter schools, which are not typically unionized."

According to The Associated Press, Lewis thought talks might resume Monday, but a time had not yet been set, and added that not enough progress had been made to avoid a strike.

This will be the first time in 25 years that members of the Chicago Teachers Union have gone on strike.

Update at 5:30 a.m. ET: Contingency Plans In Place

More from The Associated Press:

"City officials say more 144 schools will be open between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. so children can eat lunch and breakfast and have structured activities. Churches, libraries and other facilities will offer a place to spend the afternoon.

"Police Chief Garry McCarthy [says] officers will be at schools for kids' safety and to deal with potential protests, and he'll send more into the streets to keep an eye on kids."

The Chicago Tribune has more information on how the city's schools will handle a strike.

Update at 1:55 a.m. ET: Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Both sides in the dispute have much at stake, reports The Associated Press:

"The walkout comes at a time when unions and collective bargaining by public employees have come under criticism in many parts of the country, and all sides are closely monitoring who might emerge with the upper hand in the Chicago dispute.

"The timing also may be inopportune for [Mayor Rahm] Emanuel, a former White House chief of staff whose city administration is wrestling with a spike in murders and shootings in some city neighborhoods, and who just agreed to take a larger role in fundraising for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign."

Emanuel said that the strike was avoidable, and not in the best interests of the city's schoolchildren, the AP reported: "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."

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