Nearly 90 percent of union-represented Chicago Public Schools teachers voted to authorize a strike, the Chicago Teachers Union said Monday.
The vote not only exceeded the 75 percent required by state law, but some school networks voted 100 percent to authorize a strike, the union said.
The strike authorization vote began Wednesday, and according to the CTU, 91.55 percent of CTU members cast a ballot. The tallied votes give the union legal authority to call a strike in the fall.
"The results are not a win," said CTU President Karen Lewis. "They are an indictment on the state of the relationship between the management of CPS and its largest labor force."
CTU said union delegates will set the date should contract negotiations fall through.
"While the Union has made no determination on whether a strike will be needed, leaders say the authorization vote has now given them added leverage at the bargaining table," spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin said in a statement.
CPS and CTU are currently in contract negotiations but union leaders say talks are far apart when it comes to teacher pay and how teachers will be compensated for longer school days.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year rescinded a four percent pay increase and pushed for a longer school day. CPS has since proposed a five-year contract which guarantees teachers a two percent raise in their first year and lengthens the school day by 20 percent.
"They asked for a 20 percent increase in our school day and year, so we asked for a 20 percent concomitant raise to that. They stole four percent of our raises from the last contract, so we asked for that. Then we asked for a five percent raise," said Lewis.
Chicago Public Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard said he was disappointed in the timing of the vote.
“The Chicago Teachers Union leadership pushed their members to authorize a strike before giving them the opportunity to consider the independent fact finder’s compromise report due in July," Brizard said in a statement. "That's a shame. The CTU leadership left the teachers with a choice between a strike and nothing -- that's a false choice. As a former teacher, I am disappointed that union leadership would rush their members to vote for a strike before having the complete information on the table."
The city also weighed in, saying that a strike would derail momentum schools currently have.
"Our teachers deserve a raise, but our kids don't deserve a strike and taxpayers cannot afford to pay for 30 percent raises," said Sarah Hamilton, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's director of communications.
The CTU said it has no concerns about a legal challenge it could face concerning how the vote and ballot counting was conducted.