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Contract negotiations have collapsed, and Chicago teachers are expected to walk out today for the first time in 25 years.

“We have failed to reach an agreement that will prevent a labor strike,” said Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

“This is a difficult decision and one we hoped we could avoid.” The action will affect some 350,000 students in the third-largestschool district in the nation just as the school year has barely begun.

Union representatives met all day yesterday with school board officials in a failed bid to hammer out a contract, reports the Chicago Tribune.

“We do not want a strike,” said Board of Education president David Vitale as he left the negotiations, which he described as “perhaps the most unbelievable process that I’ve ever been through.”

Sticking points include raises, a recall policy for laid-off teachers, and a process for implementing a state-mandated teacher evaluation system.

Union representatives rejected the district’s last known offer of 2% pay hikes each year for four years, saying teachers deserve more because of a new, longer school day.

Teachers make on average $71,000 a year, according to the Tribune.

With a strike, CPS will put its contingency plan in effect, opening 144 schools to students from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. But parents are being urged to find alternatives and use the schools only as a last resort. The city’s 118 charter schools are not affected by a strike.

via BMS

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