|Striking Chicago teachers and their supporters attend a rally at Union Park |
on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in Chicago.
The Chicago Teachers Union voted Tuesday to end the city's first teachers' strike in 25 years, returning students to the classroom on Wednesday, according to local media.
Chicago Teachers Union's House of Delegates decided to end the teachers' strike Tuesday afternoon and return more than 350,000 students to the classroom Wednesday, Chicago Tribune reported.
"We said we couldn't solve all the problems and it was time to suspend the strike. The issue is, we cannot get a perfect contract. There's no such thing as a contract that will make all of us happy," Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said at a news conference after the vote.
The voice vote was taken after as many as 800 delegates convened at a union meeting hall to debate a tentative contract. Union leaders had already signed off on the agreement with Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised the deal at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School, saying he believes a longer school day and year would help Chicago public school students get the education they deserve.
"This settlement is an honest compromise, it means returning our schools to their primary purpose, the education of our children. It means a new day and a direction for the Chicago Public Schools. In past negotiations, taxpayers paid more but our children got less. This time our taxpayers are paying less and our kids are getting more," Emanuel told reporters.
Teacher compensation, job security and performance evaluations were most contested in the new contract, which offers teachers an average 17.6-percent pay raise over the next four years, as well as retaining other salary bumps for experience and pursuing a graduate degree.
However, the offer also includes tougher job evaluations where teachers are rated, in part, on how well their students performed on standardized tests, and for the first time, a re-hire pool for teachers who have been laid off because the district closed their schools.
The contract will be submitted to a vote by the full membership of more than 25,000 teachers over the next few weeks.