It’s back to school Wednesday for 29,000 Chicago teachers after their week-long strike. Following a two-hour meeting Tuesday, 800 delegates representing the Chicago Teachers Union voted to end the strike, agreeing to a compromise deal with the school system. The agreement now awaits ratification from rank and file union members.
According to the firsthand account of one delegate, posted at the Daily Kos, “an overwhelming majority” voted to end the strike in the packed, “standing room only” meeting.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the deal an “honest compromise,” CNN reported. Meanwhile an announcement from the CTU (which outlines how key contract issues fare in the deal) stated, “We have tremendous victories in this contract; however, it is by no means perfect.”
Wins for the teachers include frozen health insurance contribution rates, funds to hire more special education teachers, and a defeat of merit pay and evaluations based on standardized testing (teachers argued that such evaluations discriminate against teachers working in disadvantaged schools). Victories for the school system include longer school days.
Interestingly, the Board of Education had proposed that this new contract last five years, until after the next mayoral election. However, the agreed contract lasts only three years, which, according to CTU’s statement, puts “[the] next contract campaign right in the midst of the next mayoral election campaign.”
Check out Salon’s slide show from Tuesday, detailing the twists and turns of the strike.