Delegates representing Chicago’s teachers union decided Tuesday that the city’s 29,000 school district employees would end their strike, meaning children may be back in school tomorrow.
The next step is that 800 delegates will vote on the latest proposed agreement, which has been under review since Friday afternoon. Now that the union has come to an agreement, school could be back in session as early as Wednesday for the 350,000 children affected by the strike. Union members decided on Sunday to continue the walk out until the tentative bargain was approved by the union delegates.
“We have 26,000 teachers, and they’re all able to read this document and take some time to discuss its merits or its deficiencies, and that’s going to happen today,” union spokesman Jackson Potter told CNN before the meeting. “We’re just asking people to be patient and let the process run its course.”
Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school system, was eager to re-open its doors as soon as possible, having asked a Cook County judge to declare the teacher’s strike illegal on Monday. Circuit Judge Peter Flynn scheduled a hearing on that request for 10:30 am on Wednesday. If Flynn had ruled in the system’s favor, the teachers would have been forced to return to work, whether or not labor disputes were settled.
Teachers initiated the strike on September 10, in protest of increased hours, potential school closings, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed education reforms. The walkout was the first in 25 years, and kept students out of school for seven days while the two sides continued negotiation. Parents have been forced to find interim childcare solutions in the meantime and the school system has opened 147 “Children First” sites for the displaced students to attend.
Parent Nancy Davis Winfield sympathized with the union while picking up her daughter from one of the centers.
“I think it’s going to be settled this week, but I understand what the teachers are doing, and they’ve got to read that fine print,” she told CNN. “I feel that the whole nation needs to understand that this is a fight for the middle class,” Winfield said. “Democrats are talking about supporting the middle class. This is the fight that has to be waged.”
Though the battle over Chicago’s schools seems to have subsided, the long-term political ramifications for Chicago’s political leaders—and President Obama—remain to be seen.