Chicago

Chicago Teachers Union Blasts City’s Final Contract Offer as Strike Date Inches Closer

Both sides have been at odd over issues including class size, teacher pay and adding resource staff

The Chicago Teachers Union blasted a final contract offer put forth by the Chicago Public Schools and Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday, describing the proposal as "half-baked" and "wholly deficient." 

Following Friday's negotiations, the two sides didn't appear to be any closer to avoiding a strike on Oct. 17.

“Their actions today are designed to force a strike, by refusing to put an offer forward that represents progress for students or respects teachers and clinicians," CTU President Jesse Sharkey said on Friday. 

The CTU and CPS have been at odds over several key issues including class sizes, teacher pay and adding additional resource staff.

CPS officials released a press release on Friday, outlining several changes included in the proposed contract, including dropping a proposal on teacher preparation time and offering additional support for overcrowded classrooms. 

The CTU insisted the district hadn't allocated adequate funding to address overcrowding, saying the $1 million offered by CPS would be barely enough money to hire two dozen teacher assistants and teachers. 

When it comes to hiring additional nurses, social workers and case managers, the school district dedicated $400,000, which the union pointed out is a "fraction of a hundredth of a percent" of the district's budget. 

As for teacher pay, CPS' contract offer would put the average teacher salary at nearly $100,000 within five years.

Union members contended the school district's wage offer would "still leave the majority of teaching assistants and school clerks mired in poverty in year five of the contract."

The school district has repeatedly criticized the CTU for not providing a written counteroffer in more than 140 days. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson said in a joint statement that they "stand ready to continue to bargain all weekend."

"...However, CTU must respond with a comprehensive counteroffer in order for the parties to make meaningful progress," the statement read. "Our students, teachers and families deserve no less."

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