(MCT) — A spokeswoman with the Chicago Teachers Union says the organization has “well surpassed” the 75 percent threshold to authorize a strike, with 100 percent of teachers and staff in some school networks throwing their support behind a possible strike.
Union spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin said the vote tally will allow the teachers union to call for a strike next fall if contract negotiations break down. While the union has not decided whether a strike will be needed, the authorization by its members will give the union added leverage at the bargaining table, Gadlin said.
The teachers union will discuss the details of the vote at a 1 p.m. press conference today at its downtown headquarters.
In a released statement this morning, Chicago Public Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard accused union officials of pressuring their members to authorize a strike. The school district had urged the union to hold off on a strike authorization vote until an independent fact finder could complete his review of the two proposals and issue his recommendations next month.
“CTU leadership pushed their members to authorize a strike before giving them the opportunity to consider the independent fact finder’s compromise report due in July,” Brizard said. “That's a shame. The CTU leadership left the teachers with a choice between a strike and nothing -- that's a false choice. As a former teacher, I am disappointed that union leadership would rush their members to vote for a strike before having the complete information on the table.”
Last week, the state labor board rejected a request by Chicago Public Schools to preserve documents connected to the teachers union's strike authorization vote. In a letter to the district, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board said "there does not appear to be a situation justifying" making emergency rules on the union's voting process or to preserve the documents.
"We just don't have the authority to do that," John Brosnan, special counsel to the labor board, said last week.
The last Chicago teachers strike was a 19-day walk-out at the start of the 1987 school year. It was the longest teachers strike in the city’s history. The earliest teachers could strike this year would be Aug. 17, weeks before the majority of CPS students return to school in September.
©2012 the Chicago Tribune
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