Contract talks between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union have moved one step closer to a teacher strike, CBS News reports. On Monday, both the CPS and the Teachers Union agreed to the appointment of a fact-finding panel.
The panel will have 75 days to issue a report recommending terms for a settlement of the labor contract. Under a new Illinois law that regulates teachers, the Teachers Union is prohibited from striking until certain measures fail.
The panel is expected to issue its report in the middle of July. After that, the CPS and Teachers Union will have 15 days to accept or reject the recommended terms. If it's rejected, the panel can publish its recommendation. The union is then free to strike 30 days later.
A new law regulating teachers, signed by Gov. Pat Quinn in July 2011, requires that the Teachers Union comply with the steps before it may strike. The law also sets a high bar for Chicago teachers to reach a decision to strike, requiring the approval of 75 percent of all union members, not just those who vote.
CPS has stressed that it's the Teachers Union that has made the next steps necessary. While the Chicago Teachers Union has expressed its reluctance to strike, it has stated that efforts by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard to exclude teachers from school improvement measures and to extend the school day without additional compensation as possibly making a strike necessary.
"Public school teachers are not looking forward to a strike next year," CTU President Karen Lewis said. "We look forward to being in our classrooms with our students. However, given the hostile climate created by the current administration, it is imperative that we are all prepared."
While the Chicago Teachers Union may be reluctant to strike, a strike may be on the horizon if the next step in its negotiations with Chicago Public Schools is unfruitful.