Teachers in Chicago Break Off Talks over New Contract

The Chicago Teachers Union head announced on Thursday that its negotiations with officials from the school systems had collapsed, only days prior to the contract expiring for the third largest school district in the nation.

Karen Lewis the President of CTU suggested in her comments to reporters that it was not likely that this impasse would be resolved prior to the expiration of the contract on Tuesday.

The breakdown with these negotiations was unexpected since Lewis had earlier expressed optimism during the week that officials from Chicago Public Schools and teachers were nearing an agreement on terms for a new contract of one-year.

However, Thursday night, Lewis said that the officials at Chicago Public Schools had refused to budge on the contract proposals that the union has sent them that have no cost impact on the school district.

Initially the thought was a deal was close, but on Thursday, Lewis said the union found out that the school system’s bargaining rhetoric is as empty as the school’s bank accounts.

Lewis said the officials from the school district offered a new contract that included the threat to terminate 3,000 of the district’s educators; threats to make class sizes bigger; treats to eliminate pension; and threats to enforce $200 million more cuts.

Officials from the union said they had proposed changes to the evaluation systems for teachers.

Rahm Emanuel the Mayor of Chicago said in a prepared statement that he called upon the teachers to return to the bargaining table, while scoffing their union. Both sides entered the negotiations with the school district facing a budget deficit of $1.1 billion.

Emanuel added that following years of gains in academics now is not the right time to shortchange the children by ending evaluation for employees and lowering the performance standards of teachers.

Shortly after the statement was released by Emanuel the teacher’s union replied that the city’s mayor was losing his cool by attacking the teacher’s union.

It is not unusual for the negotiations to run beyond the deadlines of contracts and the new school year does not begin until following Labor Day in September.

 

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