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Negotiations Continue as CPS Teacher Strike Looms

Negotiators representing the Chicago Board of Education (CPS) and those for the teachers union (CTU) launched what is expected to be hours of intense conversation Monday, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The strike deadline is midnight.

Late Monday afternoon, the two sides were discussing a potential deal, but no formal offer had been presented, sources said.

It is unclear whether each party would make enough progress to stop the roughly 20,000 teachers from shutting down schools Tuesday. Members of the Chicago Teachers Union were picking up strike materials Monday afternoon and were told to show up for picket lines at 6 a.m. Tuesday unless they hear otherwise.

A Chicago Public Schools official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said both sides were “not too far apart on the economics,” leaving room and hope for a deal to be made. But any agreed on terms would need the approval from a 40-member union bargaining team that was scheduled to be part of Monday’s negotiations at the SEIU Healthcare headquarters on the city’s Lower West Side.

CTU said its leaders would not comment on the strike until the conclusion of Monday’s talks, which are expected to stretch late into the evening.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said there was “generally a positive” atmosphere between the two sides as negotiations continued.

“I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” he said. “I don’t want to get ahead of the (negotiating) table, because part of what works at a table is a sense of trust that you can negotiate at the table, and I don’t want to go around that process.”

CTU staff member, Norine Gutekanst said union members are hoping for a resolution but are prepared to go on strike.

“We’re absolutely willing to go on strike if there’s no resolution, if we don’t get a good agreement,” Gutekanst said. “We’re going to do what we have to do. We all know that what we really want is to have strong schools in every neighborhood and that’s what this is all about.”