CTU Members to Rally as Negotiations Continue With Possible Strike 3 Days Away

Chicago Teachers Union members planned to rally Monday, just days before a potential strike.

With no classes in session for the Columbus Day holiday, teachers, support staff and more were expected to join together for a rally at 2 p.m. at the Chicago Temple Building.

Negotiations over a new teachers contract were expected to continue Monday as well. Chicago Public Schools officials and members of CTU's bargaining team have met more than 50 times throughout the course of contract negotiations thus far. Both sides remain at odds over issues like class sizes, staffing shortages and security of students in areas surrounding schools.

On Friday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot's team told teachers that the district had delivered its best and final offer. The following day, the two sides met nearly all day and CTU officials said there was some progress made in the area of class sizes and support staff.

Saturday's bargaining session was characterized as productive discussions, signaling movement from the beginning of negotiations. While there was some work done Sunday, Monday marks the first time both sides return to the table since Saturday.

"Time is short here," CTU President Jesse Sharkey said at a news conference Saturday. "If there's a settlement, there has to be decisive action on the part of the political leadership of the city. The ball's in her court. I think there's a path in front of us before Thursday but it's going to require decisive action."

Salary is not one of the key issues still up for debate - with CPS' contract offer including a 16% raise, which would put the average teacher salary at nearly $100,000 within the next five years. CTU officials said the potential strike is about more than just money - they have said they want promises made by then-candidate Lightfoot put into writing.

If no agreement is reached, more than 25,000 teachers and staff will walk off the job Thursday morning at 12 a.m., hitting the picket lines in the nation's third-largest school district.

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