"Parents need to understand," David Temkin, a social worker for Chicago Public Schools, said as he stood outside school headquarters. "We want better schools. Unfortunately, this is the only way we can fight."
But parents are having a hard time understanding. Diana Peters, a patient care technician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, used up all her remaing time off last week to watch her three children, ages 8, 14, and 16 and had to take off today as well.
"They're understanding (at work), but my time is up," Peters said.
"I'm just taking it a day at a time."
Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis met for nearly three hours Sunday with the union's House of Delegates to review a tentative contract that had been brokered after months of negotiation. But the delegates decided to extend the strike at least two more days to give them more time to consider the deal. Several said they were dissatisfied with some of the terms.
Lewis acknowledged returning to classes Wednesday may be optimistic, considering how difficult it has been for the union and
Emanuel reacted sharply to the delay, calling the walkout "illegal" and pledging to seek an injunction in court to force an end to the city's first teachers strike in a quarter century and return more than 350,000 students to the classroom.
Emanuel has maintained for over a week that the two major sticking points in negotiations — evaluations and the ability to recall teachers who have been laid off — are not legal grounds for a work stoppage.
But teachers insisted this morning they are not playing games and feel they need more time to consider the complex agreement.
“When we got the papers, they were still warm,” said James Flynn, a member of the House of Delegates.
Flynn did not see the delay as any sign of distrust in Lewis and other union officials who had negotiated the deal, saying Lewis would want delegates to confer. "Her leadership has been one of rank and file."
Brandon Johnson, a Westinghouse College Prep social studies teacher, believes teachers should have time to comment on the deal before the strike is called off.
"What they wanted to ensure was that all the members had an opportunity to weigh in on this framework," Johnson said, calling the review a "democratic process."
"I think folks are very accustomed in this city to a top-down approach and President Lewis provided her recommendation and I think that recommendation is going to be strongly considered," he said. "We appreciate the leadership, we trust our leadership, but we've said all along that this membership belongs to its members."
The delegates' vote Sunday was a surprise. Momentum had been building for a tentative agreement since Friday, when
In the 10 months since contract talks began, Lewis and union leadership have riled up rank-and-file members with talk of being bullied and disrespected by Emanuel's aggressive approach to education reform. The mayor's push to lengthen the public school day and year without collaboration with the union struck a nerve with union leaders who, in turn, entered negotiations demanding a 30 percent raise.