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Chicago teachers strike: Negotiators hammer out contract details

September 15, 2012|By Paloma Esquivel
  • Striking teachers and their supporters rally at Union Park on Saturday in Chicago. The rally was a show of solidarity as negotiations on a labor contract continued.
Striking teachers and their supporters rally at Union Park on Saturday… (Scott Olson/Getty Images )

Chicago teachers and school officials on Saturday were hashing out the details of an agreement that could allow students to return to class Monday, as striking teachers and their supporters rallied in a public display of support for their cause.

The Chicago Tribune reported that lawyers for the school district had begun drafting a new teachers contract and could be done by Sunday afternoon. If so, the union's House of Delegates could vote to end the strike.

The new contract, which ultimately has to be ratified by union members, is based on agreements hammered out over five days of negotiations while teachers have been on strike, the newspaper reported.

Union and school officials on Friday announced that the outlines of an agreement on the major issues had been reached but cautioned that nothing was yet final.

About 350,000 students have been out of school since Monday. Teacher evaluations and job security have been the most contentious issues in the negotiations. A proposed teacher evaluation system -- part of a district push for accountability -- would weight student test scores too heavily, union members contend.

A union official on Saturday told reporters he was hopeful but that “the devil’s in the details in contracts, and we want it in writing.”

Meanwhile, thousands of striking teachers in red shirts gathered at a city park Saturday afternoon, cheering loudly as speakers urged them to stand firm until a final deal was reached. They were addressed by, among others, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and the Rev. Jesse Jackson; they were joined by union members from Wisconsin, Minnesota and elsewhere.

"I'm pretty confident that something will come together that both sides will agree on,” Ramses James, a sixth-grade math teacher, told the Associated Press. “I believe this is a very strong turning point when you have so many people coming out to fight alongside [the teachers union]. That means a lot.”


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