The Chicago Teachers Union is scheduled to begin its three-day vote on authorizing a teachers strike this week amid ongoing contract negotiations and the threat of up to 5,000 layoffs next semester.
The vote will begin Wednesday and continue through Friday to allow all members to vote. The voting will take place before school each day and could continue after Friday to ensure 100 percent voter turnout, according to CTU. Any member who fails to vote is automatically counted as a "no" vote.
If at least 75 percent of union members vote for strike authorization, a future strike would be possible, but not guaranteed. This week's vote would only authorize the House of Delegates to set a strike date in the future if an agreement is not reached, according to CTU. If support for a strike is overwhelming, however, there is a greater chance that a date will be set.
A practice strike vote was taken in early November, but the word "strike" did not actually appear on the ballot. The vote, nonetheless, was considered a preview for what's to come. In that vote, 97 percent of CTU members said they would vote to authorize a strike if needed.
The teachers strike in 2012, which was the first strike in the Chicago Public Schools district in 25 years, canceled classes for seven days.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool announced in September that the district could potentially cut 5,000 jobs by February due to the ongoing Illinois budget stalemate. CTU President Karen Lewis said the layoffs would require reprogramming nearly 700 schools, and they would affect between 175,000 and 300,000 students, depending on how the layoffs are structured.