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Striking Chicago teachers picket as contract talks gear up

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on October 17, 2019 - Duration: 01:30s

Striking Chicago teachers picket as contract talks gear up

Teachers in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system picketed outside of schools on Thursday during their first day of a strike after protracted labor negotiations between the union and district leadership failed to produce a deal.

Havovi Cooper reports.

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Striking Chicago teachers picket as contract talks gear up

(SOUNDBITE) UNIDENTIFIED GROUP SAYING: "We are the teachers!

We are the teachers!

Mighty, mighty teachers!" 26,000 teachers in Chicago walked off their job Thursday, following months of failed negotiations between the teachers union and the city government over a new contract.

(SOUNDBITE) JESSE SHARKEY, CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION PRESIDENT SAYING: "Most marriages don't last 5 years, many marriages, and I don't like this contract enough to marry it." Even though school buildings remain open, classes were canceled for 361,000 students in the nation's third largest school district.

The Chicago Teachers Union or CTU is demanding higher salaries, more support staff like nurses and social workers..

And smaller class sizes.

(SOUNDBITE) JESSE MCADOO, TEACHER SAYING: "I have 30 students in my classroom.

Half first grade, half second grade." (SOUNDBITE) MOSELEAN PARKER, TEACHER SAYING: "We want social workers.

We want nurses.

We need clinicians." On Thursday Mayor Lori Lightfoot stopped-by a local YMCA to visit students affected by the strike.

She said the district's bargaining team has offered 80 proposed changes to the current contract, including raising teachers' salaries by 16%.

(SOUNDBITE) CHICAGO MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT SAYING: "We don't have unlimited resources, but having said that, we put very generous offers on the table for teachers and support personnel and I am hopeful that we'll be able to bring them back to the table." Lightfoot says the union's full list of demands would cost the struggling district an additional $2.5 billion a year.

The strike is Chicago's first major walkout by teachers since 2012.

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