CHICAGO - Chicago's mayor turned to the courts Monday to try to end a teachers' strike in the nation's third-largest school district that entered its second week.
The strike has been uncomfortable for the Obama administration with the presidential election approaching, as Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is a former chief of staff to President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidates like Obama traditionally get union support.
The strike is the first for the city's teachers in 25 years and has kept 350,000 students out of class.
Emanuel asked a state court Monday to force Chicago school teachers back to work. Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said city attorneys asked the circuit court to force Chicago Teachers Union members off the picket line and back into classrooms.
The union and school leaders had seemed headed toward a resolution at the end of last week, but teachers decided Sunday to remain on strike, saying they needed more time to review a complicated proposal.
Central to the debate are two issues that have national concern: teacher evaluations and job security.
Emanuel said the strike was illegal because it endangers the health and safety of students and concerned issues — evaluations and layoffs — that state law says cannot be grounds for a work stoppage.
With an average salary of $76,000, Chicago teachers are among the highest-paid in the nation, and the contract outline calls for annual raises. But some teachers are upset it did not restore a 4 per cent raise Emanuel rescinded last year.
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