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Everything we know so far about Chicago’s growing strike threat

A third grader watches Chicago teachers as they picket outside his school in the fall of 2012.
A third grader watches Chicago teachers as they picket outside his school in the fall of 2012.
Scott Olson / Getty Images

No deal was reached over the weekend, so bargaining between the Chicago Teachers Union and City Hall was set to continue Monday as a large teachers’ rally took shape for the afternoon.

Schools are closed Monday for Columbus Day/Indigenous People’s Day.

After Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot made public a new offer on Friday, the Chicago Teachers Union summarily rejected it.

A deal so far remains elusive in separate negotiations between Service Employees International Union Local 73 and the city. If the city’s 25,000 teachers walk off the job Thursday, it’s possible that 10,000 teachers’ aides, bus drivers, and other support staff could join them, along with park district workers who are also SEIU members.

One of the issues here is that Lightfoot and schools chief Janice Jackson fundamentally disagree with the union about the scope of what should be on the table during contract negotiations. Lightfoot this week put a sign outside of her City Hall office that said it had been 142 days since she’d last received a union counterproposal. The union said it did respond — and that the city’s focus on pay and benefits is way too narrow.

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said Thursday that a last-minute deal was unlikely, and that some agreement must be reached in time to call a vote of the 700-member House of Delegates, which would ratify or reject a deal.

But what’s the back-and-forth actually about, policywise? Here’s everything we know so far about the Chicago strike threat, as well as what we can learn from past actions in 2012 and 2016.

It’s about policy, not just pay.

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