Sources: CTU strike could come around Columbus Day

FOX 32 NEWS - The Chicago Teachers Union is preparing for another strike. Sources say the walkout could come next month, around Columbus Day. 

Teachers’ union organizer Martin Ritter wouldn't talk to a reporter about Tuesday’s meeting, which was intended to build community support for a strike that could come in the second week of October. People going into the meeting said they represented other public employee unions and groups ranging from the DePaul University socialist students club to an Albany Park community organization.

“We're one of many community groups, as we saw four years ago, that are preparing for a strike,” said Steven Ashby of the American Federation of Teachers Union.

Some at the meeting were under the false impression that the Board of Education is trying to impose a pay cut on teachers. In fact, the Board's most recent offer is a four-year deal providing about a 4% net pay raise for the vast majority of teachers, even after they're required to pay more into their pension fund. The only exception: about 4,000 of the highest-paid, most-senior teachers.

The typical Chicago teacher is paid more than $78,000 for nine months work, plus nearly $28,000 in benefits, which is a total $106,000.

Many parents and grandparents who endured the teachers' 2012 strike - it lasted for seven schooldays - know all too well how a replay would go.

“It would be very difficult. Because I would have to find child care. I'd have to find somebody to watch him, due to me having jobs. It would be just really hard on us, schedule-wise,” said Cortez Jones, whose son is a CPS student.

FOX 32: What are you going to have to do, if the teachers go on strike?

“Other than not try to pull my hair out on a daily basis? Just find things to keep them busy, keep them active,” said Deborah Flores, who has three grandchildren in CPS. “We have a Safe Haven program at my church, which is New Life Pilsen. So I will definitely put that to good use.”

Other churches and community groups are also preparing to provide places for students locked out of classrooms by a possible strike.  Sources say the Chicago Park District's doing the same.

Teachers’ union activists say a strike authorization vote will begin Wednesday at local schools. State law requires the union to get approval from 75 percent of members prior to a walkout.

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