More Teachers Voting in Favor of Walking Off the Job

Chicago Teachers Union president says more than 200 schools have taken "mock strike votes"

Teachers at more than 200 Chicago schools overwhelmingly favor a plan to walk off the job in protest, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said Monday.

Lewis said a number of schools have taken "mock strike votes," and the majority favor work stoppage.

"At this point we need to understand where people are emotionally and where they are in terms of how they feel about the situation at hand, and what they know," Lewis said of the votes. "And the issue is, again, I have never, in my 22 years of teaching and being in the classroom, seen this kind of hostility and this disrespect for teachers."

Two of Chicago's largest high schools -- Taft High School and Lane Tech High School -- earlier this month took a mock strike vote. Lewis said the rapid increase in the number of teachers discussing a possible strike shows the issue is gaining momentum.

"What that means to me is that our members are organizing, they're very clear about what it is we're facing. This is a very serious time, and everybody is a little upset," she said.

Teachers remain frustrated over a longer school day imposed this year and over the decision to impose it next year without discussion. The teachers' labor contract with Chicago Public Schools ends June 30 and the sides are far from a new agreement.

NBC Chicago has received the results from the following high schools, with the percentages indicating teachers in favor of a work stoppage:

Von Steuben: 94 percent
Steinmetz: 96 percent
Sullivan: 95 percent
Senn: 95 percent
Uplift: 89 percent
Mather: 96 percent
Northside Learning Center: 80 percent
Kelvyn Park: 86 percent
Chicago Academy: 85 percent
Northside College Prep: 96 percent
Lane: 93 percent
Juarez: 96 percent
Kelly: 94 percent
Curie: 86 percent

CPS expressed displeasure over the teachers' actions.

"It is unfortunate that the CTU is focusing their efforts outside the classroom with threats of a strike, rather than inside the classroom and focused on our children," said spokeswoman Becky Carroll.

The union late Monday afternoon said it and CPS had agreed to the appointment of a "fact-finding panel." Beginning May 1, the three-member panel will have 75 days to report on ways to bring the two sides closer together.

Upon issuance of the report on July 15, 2012, the parties then have 15 days to accept or reject the recommendation of the fact-finding panel. The union could vote to strike one month later.

Illinois state law says 75 percent of teachers must approve a walkout. It has been 25 years since Chicago teachers have walked off the job. Teachers were out for 19 days in 1987.

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