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Chicago Teachers Approve Contract      11/16 09:40

   CHICAGO (AP) -- 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 

   The Chicago Teachers Union's 25,000 members went on strike Oct. 17 following 
months of unsuccessful negotiations with the school district and Mayor Lori 
Lightfoot'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 

   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.

   "Our contract fight was about the larger movement to shift values and 
priorities in Chicago," CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said in a union 
news release. "Working class taxpayers in Chicago have paid for skyscrapers 
that most will never visit --- but a school nurse is someone their child in 
need can see on any day. In a city with immense wealth, corporations have the 
ability to pay to support the common good."

   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.

   With 80% of schools reporting, 81% of members had voted yes to ratify the 
new contract, the union tweet ed late Friday.

   "This contract is a powerful advance for our city and our movement for real 
equity and educational justice for our school communities and the children we 
serve," the union's president, Jesse Sharkey, said in the release.

   The contract now must be approved by the Chicago Board of Education, which 
is scheduled to meet Nov. 20. The mayor appoints all of the board's members.

   In a joint statement, Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice K. 
Jackson said they were happy with the teachers' vote and "proud" of the 
benefits the agreement will provide.

   "This historic, fiscally-responsible agreement includes investments and 
initiatives that will build on the incredible progress our schools have made 
and support our commitment to equity," the statement said.

   Lightfoot and union leaders have agreed to make up five of the school days 
lost to the strike. 


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