CTU threatens strike over pension payments

The Chicago Teachers Union is threatening to strike as soon as April 1 if the school board cancels a long-running pension benefit.

However, Chicago Public Schools officials said the teachers union cannot legally strike until May.

For decades, CPS has paid 7 percent of teachers' pension contributions. Four weeks ago, CPS gave notice that it might decide to stop making that payment because of a billion-dollar budget deficit.

"And if they do that we would see that in our checks as early as April 1. And if they made an illegal and unilateral paycut our union will explore an unfair labor practice strike as a response to that," said CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey.

Union officials made those comments as CPS announced the layoffs of 17 teachers, which is much fewer than some had feared.

Officials are crediting school principals for keeping budget cuts away from the classroom. In early February, CPS asked principals to make $85 million in midyear cuts - the first time ever that principals have been asked to do so.
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