Dozens of small deals in the Chicago teachers' strike have failed to return more than 300,000 students in the nation’s third-largest school district to class.
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The Chicago Teachers Union, which represents more than 25,000 teachers, and the district have reached 80 tentative agreements over minor technical issues such as translation services for parent meetings, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, but have yet to resolve the pay and class-size issues at the heart of their dispute.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who said the city’s offer to teachers is fair and responsible, told the City Council on Wednesday that no money is available beyond the billions already committed for Chicago Public Schools, "and the city won’t be bailing out the district if it doesn’t live within its means," according to the Sun-Times.
Outside, swarms of protestors rallied around City Hall as the union and the district remained at odds over teacher pay, class sizes and additional staff for schools.
Teachers union vice president Stacy Davis Gates was quick to criticize the mayor’s characterization of the matter. “A bailout on smaller class sizes? That’s not a bailout, that’s an investment in the future of our country," the Sun-Times reported.
Lightfoot said last week that the strike shouldn't even be taking place because she has already given in to many of the union's demands, including offering a 16 percent pay raise, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
"We value the workers ... Honoring that value is who I am and what I stand for," Lightfoot said, according to publication. "But I also must be responsible for the taxpayers who pay for everything that goes on."
Lightfoot said the city's offer would provide “hundreds of millions of dollars” for contracts with both the teachers union and SEIU, the labor organization representing bus aides, security officers and others in a similar battle with the city, according to The Chicago Tribune.
SEIU negotiators met separately with the city to express dissatisfaction regarding the pay offer for their members.
Bus aides, who work part-time, make an average of $15,759 a year with full health-care coverage while full-time custodians make $34,491 and full-time special education assistants make $36,333, according to the Tribune, which cited a source close to the negotiations.
FOX Business' Evie Fordham contributed to this report.