Posted: Sep 14, 2012 7:26 PM by Lauren Molenburg
CHICAGO (AP) - The city's nearly week-long teachers strike appeared headed toward a resolution Friday after negotiators emerged from marathon talks to say they had achieved a "framework" that could end the walkout in time for students to return to class Monday.
Both sides were careful not to describe the deal as a final agreement and declined to release the terms. They expected to spend the weekend working out details before union delegates are asked to vote Sunday on whether to call off the strike.
School Board President David Vitale said the "heavy lifting" was over after long hours of talks placed "frameworks around all the major issues."
Union President Karen Lewis agreed, saying there were no "main sticking points right now." But she reiterated that there is also no contract yet and the strike remains in full effect. Despite the apparent progress, she said, the union is still suspicious of the board after being burned in the past.
The walkout has been a potent display of union power at a time when organized labor has been losing ground around the nation. The negotiations have been closely followed by many other unions and school districts that face the same issues about the future of urban education, particularly teacher evaluations linked to student test scores and the threat of school closures.
In a statement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the framework "is an honest and principled compromise" that "preserves more time for learning in the classroom, provides more support teachers to excel at their craft and gives principals the latitude and responsibility to build an environment in which our children can succeed."
Robert Bloch, an attorney for the union, called it "one of the most difficult labor contracts negotiated in decades." He said many of the core issues had been worked out "but not all of them."
Shortly after negotiators reported the progress, Lewis entered a meeting of union delegates. The delegates could be seen through windows cheering and applauding, some of them on their feet and pumping their fists in the air.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)