Chicago teachers’ vote OKs contract

Chicago News USA

CHICAGO — Chicago teachers on Friday approved the contract deal that ended an 11-day strike and includes pay raises, $35 million to enforce limits on class sizes and a pledge to supply each school with a nurse and a social worker.

The Chicago Teachers Union’s 25,000 members went on strike Oct. 17 after months of negotiations with the school district and Mayor Lori Light-foot’s administration.

Teachers held marches and rallies across the city; the district kept school buildings open but canceled two weeks of classes. More than 300,000 students and their families were affected.

Teachers said they were striking for “social justice,” with the aim of increasing resources such as nurses and social workers for students, and reducing class sizes, which teachers said exceed 30 or 40 students in some schools.

Union leaders said the strike forced city officials to negotiate on issues they initially deemed out of bounds, including support for homeless students.

Lightfoot, who took office this year, said the strike was unnecessary and dubbed the city’s offer of a 16% raise for teachers over a five-year contract and other commitments on educators’ priorities “historic.”

Once the strike ended, Lightfoot said the entire city would benefit from the negotiated deal.

The district also committed $35 million to enforce class size limits and agreed to put nurses and social workers in every school by 2023.

Teachers suspended the strike on Oct. 31 after more than half of the union’s elected delegates tentatively approved the agreement.

Union leaders have said the agreement would create “real and lasting change” for students. But some members wanted to hold out for more concessions on classroom conditions.

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