Oct. 17 (UPI) — Chicago plans to cancel classes at all public schools this week after the city’s teachers union and the school district failed to come to an agreement Wednesday on a new contract.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said some 299,000 children will not be in school Thursday because of the anticipated walkout. The Chicago Teachers Union decided to move forward with the strike late Wednesday, affecting about 32,500 teachers and support staff.
It will be the city’s first teachers strike in seven years.
“I’m disappointed,” Lightfoot said of the walkout.
“We have tried to provide the best deal that is fiscally responsible, that’s fair to teachers, fair to taxpayers. Without question, the deal we put on the table is the best in the Chicago Teachers Union’s history.”
The union and Chicago Public Schools have been negotiating a new contract for months.
There is no reason why in Chicago, a city of such wealth and resources, can’t properly invest in good jobs for school staff,” said Dian Palmer, the president of the SEIU Local 73.
In addition to more pay, union members say they’re seeking fully staffed schools, smaller class sizes and social justice programs in schools. Lightfoot said the union hasn’t been truthful with the public about what it seeks.
“But behind the scenes, they’ve continued to bring up additional bargaining issues that they say must be resolved before they can have a contract,” she said.
Lightfoot said teachers are also asking for school days to be shortened by 30 minutes.