Chicago teachers reach agreement, but strike will continue over issue of make-up days

maroke/iStock(CHICAGO) -- After 10 days on the picket line, the Chicago Teachers Union has voted to accept a tentative deal with the city -- but that still doesn't mean teachers in the Windy City will be returning to work Thursday.

The union has requested that the school system schedule make-up days for time lost to the strike, but Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said the days won't be made up. As a result, classes will again not be session Thursday.

"We believe this is an agreement that will produce real, lasting benefits in our schools. It’s a contract we can believe in. It has meaningful improvements in class size, in staffing and in a number of other features which we believe will help transform public schools in Chicago," teachers union president Jesse Sharkey said in announcing the agreement Wednesday night.

"There’s one issue, however, that's an important issue," he said. "Our union does not have a return to work agreement. Our delegates told us in no uncertain terms they were not going back to work unless there was a provision made for making up the instructional days that have been lost over the last ten days. Our members want to return to work. Everyone was clear about that. However, the mayor of the city of Chicago has said that we will not be able to make up lost instructional days."

Lightfoot, who had previously said any lost days would not be made up, reiterated that point late Wednesday night.

Discussing the sides' most recent meeting in which they hammered out the union's six remaining issues on Tuesday, Lightfoot said, "In response to my concerns that the CTU had appeared to repeatedly move the goalposts on issue after issue, President Sharkey made a dramatic gesture and said, 'Mayor, I give you my word that these last six issues are the last issues that we need to resolve in order for a contract to be ratified.'"

"Not once during that 3 1/2 hour meeting did they raise compensation for strike days -- not once. The issue never came up," the mayor said. "I've been clear from Day One that CPS would not make up any strike days. And at this late hour, we are not adding any new issues."

Despite the mayor's insistence, Illinois state law says that after nine days, district students are required to make those days up in school, according to Chicago ABC station WLS-TV. Under those rules, at least two days of school will be added to the end of the year based on how long the strike has gone on to this point.

Teachers are not paid for lost days that are not made up.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents the city's 25,000 teachers and educational support staff. The strike, in the nation's third-largest school district, has kept more than 360,000 students out of school.

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