CHICAGO (CN) – The Chicago Teachers Union on Thursday afternoon finally called off a strike that canceled 11 days of classes after a tense, last-minute compromise with Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
The CTU, representing 25,000 teachers, voted to accept the latest contract terms from the city Wednesday night, but refused to head back to the classroom until the mayor agreed to pay for missed days, adding them to the end of the school year.
On Thursday morning, Lightfoot said the union kept adding new demands after agreeing to a tentative deal and that she would not pay them for their time missed since Oct. 17.
“They have basically issued a take it or leave it demand,” she said. “None of this works without the spirit of compromise.”
Teachers flooded the snowy streets outside City Hall while CTU President Jesse Sharkey met with the mayor. The two eventually came to an agreement that five paid days will be added to the school calendar. Classes are set to resume Friday.
Lightfoot and the union have sparred over the past two weeks over issues such as caps on class size and adding support staff while the district’s 360,000 students have stayed home.
The final $500 million deal includes a 16% pay raise over five years, a guaranteed nurse and social worker in every school by 2023, and millions allocated to combating overcrowded classrooms.
“Our students will be back in school,” Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson said via Twitter. “These are words I’ve been waiting and wanting to say for weeks now. This is what matters most.”
The teachers’ strike has been Lightfoot’s first major challenge as mayor after a sweeping election win earlier this year.
School buildings have remained open during the strike to serve meals to students, although some student-athletes were forced to miss competing in state playoffs.