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Chicago mayor 'would be very surprised' if teachers strike ends by Monday classes

Madeline Buckley and Juan Perez Jr., Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

CHICAGO -- As Chicago public school teachers rallied with healthcare workers Saturday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot suggested her administration would not secure a deal with striking Chicago Teachers Union educators this weekend, raising the prospect that an ongoing walkout will cancel at least a third day of classes starting Monday.

The Chicago Teachers Union, Chicago Public Schools and city negotiators resumed bargaining Saturday after the second day of the strike, which has sent about 25,000 teachers to the picket line and idled about 300,000 students.

Lightfoot confirmed 36th Ward Alderman Gilbert Villegas, her City Council floor leader, joined talks Saturday in an effort to broker a settlement. But the strike, she said, looked set to drag on.

"I would be very surprised if classes are going to be open on Monday," Lightfoot told reporters Saturday during a brief stop at a youth basketball clinic at the UCAN facility in North Lawndale, where she spent a few minutes watching drills and bragging to assembled players about her high school alma mater's football record.

"We'll check in with CPS and we'll make sure that we get the word out one way or the other, but my expectation is that we will not be back in class on Monday," the mayor said.

Moments before Lightfoot addressed reporters, 17-year-old Crane Medical Preparatory High School student Colbie Morgan asked the mayor how close union and school district negotiators were to a deal.

 

"If we really work hard at it, we can get a deal done this week," the mayor replied, telling the student that "every minute counts" in order to settle a contract.

"My view is, having you guys out on the street without being in school is a terrible thing," Lightfoot told Morgan.

Earlier, dozens of teachers and workers gathered in Douglas Park on the West Side, carrying signs that demanded safe staffing in hospitals and public schools. Teachers, nurses and public officials spoke, leading chants of "CTU, CTU."

Dennis Kosuth, a Chicago public school nurse, told the crowd he works at three schools, facing a nearly unmanageable caseload.

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