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Chicago Teachers Union prepares for contract negotiations; current deal expires in June

By Sarah Schulte, ABC 7 News

The union for Chicago Public Schools teachers is preparing to start negotiating a new contract as their current agreement expires at the end of June.

“We intend to bargain hard, we intend to bring our allies and our members into a fight for the schools our students deserve,” said Jesse Sharkey, the Chicago Teachers Union president.

On Tuesday, the Chicago Teachers Union dropped off a list of demands to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office.

A 5-percent pay raise and smaller classroom sizes, along with more counselors, librarians and nurses were all on the list. The list also included social demands, like affordable housing.

When asked how the city should pay for it, CTU Vice President Stacy Gates answered: “Rich people.”

Union officials said that corporations should pay more, and they hope that if recreational marijuana and a Chicago casino are approved, they would get some of the tax revenue.

Since Emanuel will be ending his tenure this year, CTU is beginning to bargain with a lame duck administration. Their final deal with be struck with the next mayor.

“We’ve worked the last eight years to come to a reasonable agreements with our labor unions and I assume that will be the same with the Chicago Teachers Union,” said Chicago mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle.

While the CTU has endorsed Preckwinkle, the Cook County Board president would not say how to pay for the union’s contract demands.

Candidates Gery Chico and Bill Daley, who are often criticized by the CTU, are counting on Springfield to come up with more money for CPS.

“I want the state to pick up the entirety of the pension obligation, the way they do for other districts,” said Chico.

“I think it will be worked out but everyone needs to control their rhetoric,” said Daley.

In a response to the CTU contract demands, a mayoral spokesperson touted CPS’s academic gains and the need for the momentum to continue as contract talks begin.

CPS says it looks forward to productive conversations to work toward a contract. Law allows for negotiations to begin this week.

This article originally appeared on ABC 7 News.

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