The Chicago Teacher's Union filed a 10-day notice of intent to strike Wednesday.
The notice, signed by CTU president Karen Lewis was sent to Chicago Board of Education president David Vitalie. The timing means that teachers could go on strike after the first week of classes, as early as September 10. A news conference is scheduled for later in the day.
Chicago teachers last went on strike 25 years ago.
The teachers have been working without a contract since June, and negotiations have been slow. An exact strike date has not been set, and Lewis says negotiations will continue in the meantime.
"We want people to understand that this is a necessary step and frankly one that could have been avoided if CPS had worked with us from the very beginning. Instead, they've fought us every step of the way," Lewis said at a news conference.
The two sides are far apart on issues that include salary, health benefits and job security, issues that Lewis says have not even been discussed.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean Claude Brizard responded with a statement saying that the strike would only hurt kids.
- "They can't afford to be removed from the classroom just as they're making progress with the new full school day. That's why we'll continue to meet every day until we reach a fair resolution for our teachers and avoid any disruption to our kids' school year. If CTU leadership decides to strike, we will be prepared to provide our students with the services they need to keep them fed and in a safe environment with positive activities.
Both sides have been gearing up for a possible strike since last week, with CTU delegates authorizing Lewis to issue the strike notice, and the school board authorizing $25 million in spending if a work stoppage were to occur.
The strike contingency plan calls for CPS to open some schools and other city buildings for the students, along with breakfast, lunch and other organized activities. By state law, no actual teaching can take place.
Negotiations seemed to have picked up a few weeks ago when 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.