Chicago Teacher's Union delegates took a step Wednesday that could possibly lead to a strike.
The delegates voted at Lane Tech High School labor meeting to give president Karen Lewis the go-ahead to issue a 10-day strike notice at her discretion, according to a news release.
Contract negotiations between the CTU and the Board of Education have yet to be settled.
Lewis cautioned that the vote does not mean a strike is imminent, and that no decision has been made.
On Wednesday, teachers picketed outside a district office in the shadow of a giant inflatable rat as school board members inside authorized spending $25 million in the event of the first Chicago teacher strike in a quarter-century.
The brinksmanship came just weeks after the two sides reached an agreement on hiring new teachers to allow for a longer school day. That issue once seemed to be the biggest roadblock to a new contract, but the bargaining and posturing has not let up as the two sides come down to the last few weeks before 400,000 Chicago students are all back in public schools.
"We have had 45 sessions of negotiations, and we're still pretty far apart," Lewis told the Board of Education at Wednesday's meeting.
Last week, the union began printing strike signs and made sure the media knew about it. On Monday, teachers started informational picketing at several elementary schools to make sure parents understood their issues — and to keep the contracts in the spotlight.
A union spokeswoman even hinted that if an agreement isn't reached, teachers might take their signs all the way to North Carolina to the Democratic National Convention, where Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is scheduled to speak.
Picketing is expected to continue this week.