Chicago Teachers Approve Contract 11/16 09:40
CHICAGO (AP) -- Chicago teachers on Friday approved the contract deal that
ended an 11-day strike and includes pay raises, $35 million to enforce limits
on class sizes and a pledge to supply each school with a nurse and a social
The Chicago Teachers Union's 25,000 members went on strike Oct. 17 following
months of unsuccessful negotiations with the school district and Mayor Lori
Teachers held marches and rallies across the city; the district kept school
buildings open but canceled two weeks of classes. More than 300,000 students
and their families were affected.
Teachers said they were striking for "social justice," with the aim of
increasing resources such as nurses and social workers for students, and
reducing class sizes, which teachers said exceed 30 or 40 students in some
Union leaders said the strike forced city officials to negotiate on issues
they initially deemed out of bounds, including support for homeless students.
Lightfoot, who took office this year, said the strike was unnecessary and
dubbed the city's offer of a 16% raise for teachers over a five-year contract
and other commitments on educators' priorities "historic."
Once the strike ended, Lightfoot said the entire city would benefit from the
The district also committed $35 million to enforce class size limits and
agreed to put nurses and social workers in every school by 2023.
"Our contract fight was about the larger movement to shift values and
priorities in Chicago," CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said in a union
news release. "Working class taxpayers in Chicago have paid for skyscrapers
that most will never visit --- but a school nurse is someone their child in
need can see on any day. In a city with immense wealth, corporations have the
ability to pay to support the common good."
Teachers suspended the strike on Oct. 31 after more than half of the union's
elected delegates tentatively approved the agreement.
Union leaders have said the agreement would create "real and lasting change"
for students. But some members wanted to hold out for more concessions on
With 80% of schools reporting, 81% of members had voted yes to ratify the
new contract, the union tweet ed late Friday.
"This contract is a powerful advance for our city and our movement for real
equity and educational justice for our school communities and the children we
serve," the union's president, Jesse Sharkey, said in the release.
The contract now must be approved by the Chicago Board of Education, which
is scheduled to meet Nov. 20. The mayor appoints all of the board's members.
In a joint statement, Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice K.
Jackson said they were happy with the teachers' vote and "proud" of the
benefits the agreement will provide.
"This historic, fiscally-responsible agreement includes investments and
initiatives that will build on the incredible progress our schools have made
and support our commitment to equity," the statement said.
Lightfoot and union leaders have agreed to make up five of the school days
lost to the strike.