Still no deal; CPS classes canceled Wednesday

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CHICAGO — Chicago Public School classes were canceled Wednesday for the 10th school day as contract negotiations continued between school officials and the Chicago Teachers Union.

Union leaders said there was no contract deal after the CTU House of Delegates met Tuesday evening.

“There’s a lot that’s been achieved in these negotiations,” CTU president Jesse Sharkey said. “I think we have seen meaningful and important offers on those items and issues. I’ve got to see the written language.”

He said they can achieve a tentative agreement Wednesday morning, the CTUwould bring in delegates to vote in the afternoon. When asked if that was likely, Sharkey said it’s possible.

"We still have some other issues obviously that we have to plan and settle. We haven’t settle everything. There’s still some other stuff," he said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS officials spoke to the media Tuesday afternoon ahead of the delegates meeting and said the CTU did not agree with a proposed offer described by the mayor as "historic."

"We met with CTU leadership for three and a half hours," Lightfoot said. "They told us about five outstanding issues and we moved our position. And what we heard? 'It is still not good enough.' ... What's prolonging this strike is the union's insistence on a shorter school day or a school year and their insistence that I support their political agenda."

“At this point we have resolved all the major issues; class size, staffing, pay for teachers and everything the union has brought forward to us,” CPS CEO Janice Jackson said. “We hope the House of Delegates will seriously the offer that is in front of them. … The ball is entirely in your court.”

After the meeting, CTU vice president Stacy Gates said she took issue with CPS's categorization of it.

“The mayor set up an unfair expectation of this meeting today. The expectation that she set up was that we were coming here to vote on something. It was clearly communicated that we were meeting with adults who have responsibilities who needed an update, a face-to-face meeting, about what negotiations had netted so far," Gates said. "It was unfair to build up an expectation that this particular meeting was about anything except for what it was about."

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CTU protests Lincoln Yards

Teachers moved the picket lines to Lincoln Yards Tuesday morning, using the mega-development as an example of where they say the city could find additional money to close the contract.

A sea of red flooded Fleet Fields in Lincoln Park as thousands of teachers, along with many of their students,  marched to make a statement to the city.

"We don’t need a playground for the rich, we are the future; we should use the TIF money to fund this contract, we won't settle for the bare minimum," said Lindblom Math and Science Academy student De Camcho.

The CTU blames the mayor for giving tax subsidies to private developers like Sterling Bay, which is behind the $6 billion Lincoln Yards, through what's known as Tax increment financing. The union says the money should go towards CPS and schools instead.

"We know that the resources are here and that when the city decides to be creative, the city finds the money," one protester said.

Marathon negotiations

The CTU and CPS spent more than 16 hours at the bargaining table, starting Monday and stretching until 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Initially, union officials said they would not leave until there was a deal, but in the end both sides remain far apart on key issues.

The city said it's already invested nearly half a billion dollars in the contract, including $70 million to put a nurse and social worker in every school. They also added $25 million to reduce class sizes.

However, they said other issues have come up, including the union's demand for the district to provide paid prep time for teachers.

"We also have, in addition to prep time, some other issues," CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade said. "Some new issues that have been put forth, by the union, on the table as of late that are concerns for us."

"This is a half a billion-dollar offer and yet we still do not have a deal," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. "Instead, the CTU's bargaining team continues to move the goal posts and bring in new issues that do not belong in any collective bargaining contract. They have now informed us that want us to bargain over other matters that are legislative in nature, not contract issues."

SEIU Local 73, which represents 7,500 CPS support staff, reached a tentative agreement with CPS Sunday night but representatives said the union will not cross the picket line until the teachers' union reaches a deal as well.

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