Chicago public school teachers could strike as early as next week in a protest move over pay and budget issues affecting hundreds of thousands of students unless negotiations aimed at averting a walkout are successful.
According to the Chicago Tribune
, thousands of union workers wearing red T-shirts gathered in Daly Plaza Monday in support of the teachers and called for a strike beginning on Sept. 10.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis told the crowd she's hopeful a deal can be worked out before the deadline next Monday. But she declared "enough is enough," blaming Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel and school administrators for tight education resources and for what she called playing politics with the city's school children.
At issue in addition to pay, the teachers have raised concerns about new teacher evaluation process and recall policy regarding teachers who have been laid off. The Tribune reported the teachers are also worried about a proposal "to close as many as 100 schools to save money and to consolidate resources."
"We are going to let the mayor and officials know we are serious," said strike supporter Josephine Hamilton Perry, who told the Tribune she taught at a Chicago school for 19 years before being laid off last year.
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