CTU delegates to review contract language Sunday

September 15, 2012 (CHICAGO)

While teachers marched in solidarity, they also spent time reading the writing in their new contract and checking the arithmetic in the latest offer.

Union President Karen Lewis said little Saturday night as she returned from a dinner break.

Both worked since 9 a.m. to put into words what took eight months to negotiate.

"We feel like there (have) been real gains," said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. "But I'm not willing to say we're out of the woods. We have a contract to get."

As attorneys pored over legal language, a sea of red poured into Union Park.

If the contract battle was nearing an end, you couldn't tell from the speeches.

"Fight on! Fight on! Fight on! Fight on! Fight on!" CPS parent Krista Austin told the rally crowd estimated at more than two thousand.

The teachers were joined by parents, students, and members of other unions, as well as busloads of supporters from around the Midwest.

"Because of CTU every teacher across this country is holding their head a little higher," said Kerry Motoviloff of Madison, Wisc. Teachers, Inc.

"No teacher becomes a teacher because they think they're going to get rich," said rapper Che "Rhymefest" Smith. "This is not a get-rich job! This is a love job!"

Lewis took a break from the bargaining table to fire up the crowd.

"I want them to turn off the air conditioning on the fifth floor of city hall and let them work like we work," she told the cheering crowd.

Afterward, Lewis emphasized that it would be the union's House of Delegates on Sunday, not her leadership team, that would decide the fairness of any new deal.

"We're teachers," she said. "We all know how to read. We all know how to do math, so we're going to get at it. And we're going to have our members have their say."

"I think they really believe that they've gotten a good deal going, a good framework going, and we'll vote on what we see," said CTU delegate Michael Murphy.

The event ended with a three-mile march to Garfield Park to highlight what organizers say is a lack of education resources in less-affluent neighborhoods.

"Parents and community members are supporting us more and more because they're hearing the truth about what is needed for a quality education for their kids," said CTU member Michelle Mottram.

Statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel on The Tentative Contract Framework Reached by CPS and CTU
This tentative framework is an honest and principled compromise that is about who we all work for: our students. It preserves more time for learning in the classroom, provides more support teachers to excel at their craft, and gives principals the latitude and responsibility to build an environment in which our children can succeed. Now, our most important work continues: providing every child in every community of Chicago an education to match their potential.

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