90 Percent of Chicago Teachers Authorize Strike
By TAMMY WEBBER Associated Press
CHICAGO June 11, 2012 (AP)
Teachers in the nation's third-largest school district voted overwhelmingly to authorize the first strike in 25 years if their union and the city cannot reach a deal on a contract this summer — signaling just how badly the relationship between teachers and Chicago school officials has deteriorated, union officials said Monday.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis announced the result of last week's balloting — nearly 90 percent of its 26,502 members voted to authorize a strike —and called it "an indictment of the state of the relationship between the management of CPS and its largest labor force members." State law requires 75 percent approval.
Teachers are upset that Mayor Rahm Emanuel canceled last year's raise and that they're being asked to work longer days without what they consider to be an adequate pay increase. Lewis said other key issues include class size and resources.
A strike wouldn't be called until the beginning of the next school year, but union leaders could do so without another vote. They say holding the vote now instead of later gives the union added leverage at the bargaining table. It also allowed 1,500 retiring teachers to vote.
"Our members ... were loud, serious and clear," Lewis said. "We want a contract that gives Chicago students the school they deserve. So we call on CPSs to take this process seriously and negotiate with us in good faith with an eye on the real prize, our children."
And so it begins.