No vote today in teachers strike negotiations

September 14, 2012 (CHICAGO)

The latest round of contract talks wrapped up about 1 a.m. Friday at the Chicago Hilton hotel on South Michigan Avenue. While both sides remain optimistic, there is still no deal.

"This is long and exhausting work. We're all tired," said Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

Negotiations went into the early morning hours after a grueling day for teachers union and Chicago Public Schools negotiators. And it appears the latest round of talks got bogged down in the details.

CPS negotiator Barbara Boyd-Bennett said the two sides are "very, very close." They think they're so close they can get to an agreement Friday and kids will be back on Monday, she said.

Boyd-Bennett says everyone is tired and that even when they're done negotiating at night, they still have work to do.

Boyd-Bennett said evaluations are related to recall, which makes negotiations difficult.

"We want to maintain the reform efforts in place," she said. "As someone who started in teaching, I respect that, but principals are held accountable; they're the bottom line for children's success."

Some negotiators did not get to bed until 3 a.m. and then had to be back at 9 a.m. to continue negotiations.

"I can concur with CTU that it was a beneficial night. I think we moved closer. Everyone was incredibly tired, but we are so close. I do believe on this sunshiny day that it is very possible we will have a deal today," Boyd-Bennett said.

Lewis said both sides spent the night going over calculations from the latest proposals. District officials hope to strike a deal by 2 p.m. when the CTU delegates are set to meet and possibly vote on the newest proposal.

At Kennedy High School, teachers rallied Friday morning. Hundreds of teachers and their families from four elementary schools that feed into Kennedy High School, rallied to provide a united force to the negotiating team, saying they will not go back to work until they have a fair contract.

Teachers began gathering along Archer at 9 a.m, attempting to form a human link all the way east from Archer and Harlem to Archer and Austin. Some teachers say they are getting tired of the picket line. Many of them remain united in their opposition to what they see as the mayor's attempt to bully them.

"I think there is more information going out to parents that schools need more resources. I think that is the message we are trying to receive, especially working in public schools, we need more resources," said teacher Yazmin Romo.

"There is a lot of data that, you know, as you make some changes in your forecast, around people, issues and so forth, try to translate that into class issues," Lewis said.

"It is just ebb and flow. It is just the way it is," said Chicago School Board President David Vitale.

The battle to win public support continues. Mayor Rahm Emanuel once again met with public school parents. The mayor has continually called this a strike of choice. At the same time at another big downtown rally, teachers blame the mayor for the labor unrest. Back at the bargaining table, there is still hope, though, that a deal could be reached in time to get kids back in class by Monday.

>> Both sides have to be back at the Hilton at 9 a.m. And Friday afternoon, the union's House of Delegates is set to meet at 2 p.m. If there is a deal by then, the union House of Delegates could vote on it. There will be no deal until they approve it.

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