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Mayor Rahm Emanuel to striking Chicago teachers: See you in court

September 16, 2012|By Matt Pearce
  • After delegates representing striking teachers in Chicago declined to approve a contract Sunday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he would go to court to force the teachers to end their walkout.
After delegates representing striking teachers in Chicago declined to… (Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated…)

The Chicago teachers strike may not end the way they want it to: Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans Sunday evening to sue the union and force what he called an illegal strike to end immediately.

“I will not stand by while the children of Chicago are played as pawns in an internal dispute within a union,” the mayor’s office said in a statement. “This was a strike of choice and is now a delay of choice that is wrong for our children.”

After little over two hours of reportedly contentious deliberation on Sunday afternoon, 800 teachers union delegates voted against ending the strike after negotiators from the district and the union had reached a tentative deal.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said the delegates were “not happy” with the agreement and that “they’d like for it to be a lot better for us than it is.”

Jewish delegates, facing the arrival of the Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, at sundown, also requested more time to examine the proposed three-year contract. Union officials pushed the next delegates meeting back to Tuesday, meaning teachers wouldn’t be back in class until Wednesday at the earliest.

Not so fast, Emanuel said.

“While the union works through its remaining issues, there is no reason why the children of Chicago should not be back in the classroom as they had been for weeks while negotiators worked through these same issues,” Emanuel’s statement said.

Emanuel’s office said it had told the city’s legal counsel to work with the school district’s attorneys to file an injunction in court to return students to their classrooms “immediately.”

“This continued action by union leadership is illegal on two grounds — it is over issues that are deemed by state law to be non-strikable, and it endangers the health and safety of our children,” the statement said.

The union did not make an immediate response.

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