The Chicago Teachers Union says it has modified demands on two of its key issues — class sizes and staffing — to try to reach a contract deal before its Thursday strike date.
CTU President Jesse Sharkey said its new proposal “does not solve all our outstanding issues” but does “provide a path to a contract.”
Union leaders, speaking to the media Saturday afternoon after negotiations wrapped up for the weekend, said they are open to accepting a phase-in of proposals to cap class sizes and to increase staffing of social workers, case managers and school nurses. The CTU said it wants the phase-in to begin in neighborhoods that facing higher levels of violence and other stressors.
This “gives the mayor a path to get an agreement if that is her desires,” Sharkey said. He added it’s “going to take decisive action” on the city’s part. Officials added they still want specific staffing numbers outlined in their contract.
The latest statements appeared to mark a shift in tone to a more conciliatory stance from Friday evening, when the union blasted a city counter-offer as “half-baked and wholly deficient.” Sharkey called Saturday’s bargaining session “positive and encouraging,” unlike Friday’s which he called “a pretty sullen and angry day.”
Earlier Saturday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson released a joint statement saying they “remain committed to working diligently on behalf of our children to get a deal done,” despite the CTU rejecting “everything we have offered, without providing a comprehensive, written counteroffer.”
“We value and respect our teachers, and we will be back at the negotiating table today in an effort to avoid a work stoppage,” Lightfoot and Jackson said. "It’s essential that both sides come together so that our students can continue making their remarkable academic progress, and families can have the peace of mind they deserve.”
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