CHICAGO — Teachers begin voting Thursday on a tentative contract deal that ended an 11-day strike in the nation's third-largest school district last month.
Members of the teachers union's governing body voted in favor of the tentative agreement with City Hall on Oct. 30 by about a 60-40 percent majority.
Now, the union's more than 25,000 members will have their say. Voting is scheduled to take place Thursday and Friday, with a final tally expected by Friday afternoon at the earliest. If teachers vote to reject the agreement, the union's governing body would convene to determine next steps.
The tentative agreement guarantees all union members a 16% raise over the life of the five-year contract and invests $35 million in reducing class sizes. It also guarantees that every school will have a nurse and social worker by 2023, among other guarantees.
"I think that the teachers contract reflects a lot of equity investments around class sizes and other supports," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday morning. "We believe that it is a good contract and ... historic."
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In a letter to union members Thursday, union president Jesse Sharkey encouraged members to ratify the agreement, calling the strike a "heroic undertaking."
The Chicago strike came amid a recent string of union walkouts. Since early 2018, teachers have taken charge of education policy debates, marching in the streets and filling state capitols to push for changes in how states educate kids and pay their teachers. The Chicago strike was longer than nearly every teacher walkout since 2018, idling academics, sports and college prep for about 350,000 students and their families.
Democratic hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren spoke out in support of the strike, as well as the Windy City's own Chance the Rapper, who hosted "Saturday Night Live" while wearing red and praising teachers during his opening monologue.
Contributing: Erin Richards, USA TODAY.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chicago teachers strike 2019: Union members to vote on agreement