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CPS Cancels Class For Thursday, Following Massive Rally By Striking Teachers Downtown

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With thousands of striking teachers rallying downtown as Mayor Lori Lightfoot presented her city budget address on Wednesday, negotiators for the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Teachers union negotiators continued work at the bargaining table, but with no deal in place yet, CPS has cancelled classes for Thursday.

Thousands of teachers and their supporters swarmed downtown streets Wednesday morning as the mayor was preparing to present her 2020 budget plan, culminating with a rally across the street from City Hall as Lightfoot was at the dais inside.

Negotiators were at the table through the day Wednesday afternoon, but CPS said since the union's house of delegates had yet to schedule a vote on the proposals currently on the table, the district was cancelling classes for Thursday, meaning students will miss a sixth day of class due to the strike.

The union clearly isn't expecting a deal anytime soon, either, as CTU has scheduled a town hall meeting Wednesday night to demand a wage increase for support staff represented by SEIU Local 73, who are also on strike.

In a news conference Wednesday night, Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said she was "encouraged" by the striking teachers' perseverance.

"I'm very encouraged by our members who are sacrificing the stability of their own households for things that do not follow them home to their own addresses," Gates said.

She emphasized the counselors, psychologists, and other staff will be in school communities and will not benefit teachers personally.

Gates also said people should think of teachers as "gladiators for justice" and not as "enemies." She said teachers are striking to stand up for students and for those in the greatest need.

"Don't think that we're in the streets yelling and screaming because we're not getting our way," she said.

Teachers have been on strike since last Thursday. Aside from a dispute over pay raises for teachers and other staff, the union is seeking guarantees from CPS on reducing class sizes and increasing the number of nurses, social workers, librarians, and other support staff at schools.

A member of the CTU negotiating team on Wednesday tweeted a photo of the bargaining team reviewing CPS proposals. Michelle Gunderson said the two sides had reached tentative agreements on many issues, but were still working on the matters of class size and staffing, calling that "our mountain to climb."

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