Negotiations Appear to Stall as Chicago Teachers Strike Enters 4th Day of Canceled Classes

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren was scheduled to rally with teachers in Chicago Tuesday morning

Negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union and city officials appeared to be at an impasse Tuesday morning, as the teachers strike entered its fourth day of canceled classes citywide.

While negotiations between the two sides were scheduled to continue at 10 a.m. Tuesday, a majority of the union's 40-person bargaining team was not expected to return to the table.

At a news conference Tuesday morning, CTU President Jesse Sharkey said the union's officers and attorneys will be in negotiations but the rest of the team would be hitting the picket lines at their respective schools.

This development came after Mayor Lori Lightfoot sent the union a letter asking teachers to return to work without a contract in place, and as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren arrived in Chicago to rally with striking teachers in a show of support Tuesday morning.

"Yesterday, negotiations took a turn for the worse after a productive weekend in which we thought we were starting to where we were going to land," Sharkey said.

"The board essentially followed what the mayor was saying in public, sent a letter to us in fact, and then the negotiators at the table started saying the exact same thing, which was, 'We're out of money; there's no more places for us to go,' which that was extremely disappointing," Sharkey continued.

"It showed that although the mayor is saying, 'I want a quick agreement,' really what she meant is that we should compromise on the remaining issues that would look like justice in the schools. She wants us to simply give up on some of the most most basic things we're asking for."

"That's not the way labor negotiations work," he added.

“The students and families of Chicago cannot afford to be out of school for any longer, which is why we are asking you to end the strike and encourage your members to return to work while bargaining continues,” Lightfoot's letter read. “As someone who is concerned about the success of our students, we hope you see how necessary it is to reopen schools at this time.”

At a news conference Monday morning, Lightfoot said she found it "unfortunate that the larger bargaining team has decided that they're going to take the day off."

"There should be a sense of urgency all the way around and I'm never going to shy away from publicizing to the union, and also to the public, the hardships that our students and our families are facing," Lightfoot said of her decision to send CTU the letter. "What we're seeing is real human cost for this work stoppage."

"We have been making progress. Not enough, not fast enough but we felt like it was important to let the union and let the public know what's actually happening and the consequences for our young people and ask them in good faith to come back and continue bargaining in good faith," Lightfoot continued, adding, "They've obviously rejected that."

On the substance of the district's latest offer, Sharkey said Tuesday "a written proposal and an adequate written proposal are two different things."

"For example, on class size in the CPS contract, the mayor has offered relief in about 15% of our overcrowded classrooms. Nothing at all in high school," Sharkey continued, adding that the union found the latest contract proposal from the district to not have adequate enforcement mechanisms on staffing.

"She didn't get it done. She actually turned in her homework but she only did half her homework," Sharkey said.

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