The week-old teachers strike in Chicago's public schools will continue into the new week, after a representative group of the Chicago Teachers Union decided not to end the walkout even though union leaders and school officials had reached a tentative contract deal.
The move left Mayor Rahm Emanuel vowing to go to court to force teachers back to work, calling Sunday's actions by the union "a delay of choice that is wrong for our children."
The mayor announced in a statement that he's asked city lawyers "to file an injunction in circuit court to immediately end this strike." He contended the strike is illegal because "it is over issues that are deemed by state law to be nonstrikable, and it endangers the health and safety of our children."
"I will not stand by while the children of Chicago are played as pawns in an internal dispute within a union," Emanuel said.
Members of the teachers' bargaining team detailed the proposed contract to a group of 800 union representatives, called the House of Delegates, in a meeting Sunday afternoon. But Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said that, after extensive debate, the delegates said they wanted more time to discuss the contract with union members.
The House of Delegates will reconvene Tuesday afternoon, at which point delegates could decide to end the strike -- or not. If they do, classes could resume at earliest on Wednesday. And even if the strike is ended, the more than 26,000-member union's rank-and-file would still have the opportunity at some point to accept, or reject, the proposed contract.
As of Sunday, though, Lewis said a "clear majority" of union delegates did not want to suspend the strike given the proposed contract.
"They are not happy with the agreement," Lewis said.
There were no classes all last week for more than 350,000 students in Chicago, home to the nation's third-largest school system, when the union went on strike after failing to reach a contract agreement with school board officials.
The negotiations have taken place behind closed doors. Publicly, the past week has been marked by sometimes biting remarks, as well as vocal picketing in and around the city's schools, some of which opened for a few hours each weekday to give some students a place to go during the strike.