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After Seven Days, Chicago Teachers Vote To Suspend Strike

Teacher Patty Westcott pickets outside Clissold Elementary School in Chicago on Tuesday.
M. Spencer Green
Teacher Patty Westcott pickets outside Clissold Elementary School in Chicago on Tuesday.

Update at 6:15 p.m. ET. Strike Suspended:

Chicago teachers voted to suspend a strike that had gone into its seventh day today.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that means that 350,000 students in the nation's third-largest school district will return to classrooms this week.

The AP reports:

"The union's House of Delegates voted Tuesday to suspend the strike after learning details of a tentative contract agreement.

"A proposed settlement was presented to delegates during the weekend. Sticking points included teacher evaluations and job security, provisions at the core of a debate about the future of public education across the nation."

Update at 6:24 p.m. ET. Union Claims Victory:

The Sun-Times reports that at the meeting of the union delegates, the union declared victory on many of the thorny issues. This introduction was attached to the terms of the proposed contract:

"Our brothers and sisters throughout the country have been told that corporate 'school reform' was unstoppable, that merit pay had to be accepted and that the public would never support us if we decided to fight. Cities everywhere have been forced to accept performance pay. Not here in Chicago! Months ago, CTU members won a strike authorization, one that our enemies thought would be impossible — now we have stopped the Board from imposing merit pay! We preserved our lanes and steps when the politicians and press predicted they were history. We held the line on healthcare costs."

Update at 6:41 p.m. ET. Students Back On Wednesday:

Quoting Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, the AP reports that school will resume Wednesday.

Our Orignal Post Continues:

Eight hundred union delegates will meet in Chicago today to vote on whether to end a teachers' strike that has kept about 350,000 students from school for seven days.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the Chicago Teachers Union's House of Delegates is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. EDT to review a tentative deal reached last week.

The Tribune reports that some of the teachers walking the picket line expressed optimism:

" 'In our meetings yesterday, it's apparent we're optimistic that we will return,' said Mary Mark, a CPS speech language pathologist, who fears that if the union is on strike much longer, support for the teachers will shift.

" 'We realize that by going out, we're diminishing our power, but on the other hand, we don't want to strike so long that we turn the tide of support. We all need to get back to work and the kids need to get back in school,' Mark said."

As Mark told us yesterday, if the union decides to continue with its walkout, a court will consider a petition from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to intervene and issue an injunction that immediately brings the strike to an end. The court is scheduled to hear the petition on Wednesday.

The New York Times spoke to some of the delegates and found a mixed response to the tentative deal. The Times adds:

"In interviews, delegates' views on the proposal seemed to range widely and gave few hints whether Karen Lewis, the union's president, had gathered a consensus behind the deal, which she had earlier deemed good if imperfect.

"Some said they wanted to get back to school right away, while others said they needed more time to study provisions of the contract. Some said they simply did not like what they saw on issues like pay, evaluations and a wellness program."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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