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One day after filing the required 10-day strike notice, the Chicago Teachers Union on Thursday announced their strike is set to begin Sept. 10.
The date, the first Monday of the school year for most Chicago Public Schools students, is the earliest possible day union members could have chosen to stage a walkout, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
CTU President Karen Lewis on Thursday blamed CPS for dragging out the contract negotiations. The union has been enmeshed in a months-long standoff with the school district and the city over pay, class size and a longer school day they say was implemented without necessary input from teachers, among other issues.
"We have said from the beginning, we’re tired of being bullied, belittled and betrayed," Lewis told reporters, according to CBS Chicago. "We continue to be vilified and treated with disrespect."
The union could yet come to an agreement with the city before a walkout begins, and negotiations are expected to continue in the days ahead, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Still, CPS has come up with a contingency plan for a strike that they have dubbed "Children First." The program will entail keeping 145 of the city's schools open for half days -- from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., according to a statement released Thursday.
CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said the plan is being put into place as "a precaution" in a statement. The city Board of Education last week authorized spending $25 million in the event of a strike.
"Too much is at stake for our kids both inside and outside the classroom and that’s why we’re focused on reaching a fair contract for our teachers that keeps our kids in the classroom where they belong," Brizard said.
The last time Chicago teachers went on strike was in 1987.
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