The Slatest

After 11 Days of Canceled Classes, Chicago Teachers End Strike

A woman in a crowd of demonstrators speaks into a megaphone. Some hold sings, and snow falls around the marchers.
Braving the snow, thousands of teachers and their supporters marched through the streets near City Hall during the 11th day of the teachers strike on Thursday in Chicago. Scott Heins/Getty Images

Chicago’s teachers voted to return to school on Friday after tentatively agreeing to a new five-year contract, ending a strike that kept the city’s 300,000 public school students out of the classroom for 11 days.

The vote, which Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday afternoon, came a day after the union had agreed to the new deal. The teachers had continued to strike Thursday over a disagreement about makeup days; the teachers demanded that the school fully make up all 11 days missed during the strike, and Lightfoot refused.

After a meeting between Lightfoot and the union’s president, the mayor said the schools would make up five school days. The union described the compromise as a punishment, but one they agreed to because teachers were eager to return to work. According to the New York Times, it was the longest teacher strike in the city in three decades.

The strike, which began on Oct. 17, revolved around more than just pay. Teachers asked for more social workers, librarians, and nurses to provide services for students. They called for smaller class sizes, complaining that overstuffed classes had made teaching more difficult. And they asked for protections for their immigrant and homeless students.

Ultimately, the city agreed to pay $35 million to add the additional staff and reduce class sizes by 2023. The city also agreed to a 16 percent raise over five years. The deal also set limits on class sizes. Teachers will now have 10 days to vote to ratify the contract.