As Chicago Public Schools teachers prepare for a potentially long contract fight, the school district struck a tentative deal with another entity.
CPS reached a three-year contract agreement with Service Employees International Union Local 73, the district's second largest union representing about 5,500 custodians, child welfare attendants, special education classroom assistants, school bus aides and security officers.
The deal comes after lunchroom workers reached a five-year agreement with CPS after two months of negotiations to serve fresh-cooked food in cafeterias.
Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard told NBC Chicago both deals are proof the district is willing to negotiate.
"The SEIU contract and the UNITE HERE contract I think prove that if two sides come together, even if far apart, can come to common ground," Brizard said. "I think there's room for the CTU as well if they allow the process to be followed."
The Chicago Teachers Union said Friday it plans to hold a strike authorization vote Wednesday. If members authorize a strike, union leadership will have the final say as to if and when that happens.
"We are tired of being bullied, belittled, and betrayed by the district, and by the City of Chicago," Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis said Friday afternoon.
Brizard said Monday he wants parents to know CPS is working hard to prevent a strike and urges the CTU to hold off until an independent review returns.
"If the process is followed, we're going to get there," Brizard said.
Teachers have said it's not fair the independent report doesn't come out until July when school is already out. They say a strike vote could be taken when most appropriate. CPS urges them to wait.
"Having a strike vote this week does not do service to what we're trying to do, to our children, to our families and to our city," Brizard said.
State law requires 75 percent of union members to vote favorably for a strike in order to authorize any work stoppage. The last "strike" was more than 20 years ago.