Emanuel looks to court to end Chicago teachers' strike

Teachers from Wisconsin and Minnesota join striking Chicago teachers during a rally Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in Chicago. Union president Karen Lewis reminded the crowd that although there is a "framework" for a contract, they still are on strike.
AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong

Last Updated 12:14 p.m. ET

(CBS/AP) CHICAGO - Despite Chicago Teachers Union negotiators agreeing to a tentative deal with the Chicago Public Schools, there are not classes Monday - and teachers might not return to classrooms until at least Wednesday.

On Monday Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked a state court to force Chicago school teachers back to work and end a week-long strike which he calls illegal.

Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said city attorneys asked the Cook County Circuit Court to force Chicago Teachers Union members off the picket line and back into classrooms.

The request, filed in Circuit Court of Cook County, argues the strike is illegal because state law bars the union from striking on anything but economic issues and that the work stoppage is focused instead on such issues as evaluations, layoffs and recall rights.

The filing also contends the strike presents a danger to public health and safety, partly because thousands of public students rely on school meals for their basic nutrition.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said late Sunday afternoon that the union's House of Delegates wanted to take the contract proposal to individual teachers for consideration before voting to end the strike.

Union representatives will meet again Tuesday to decide whether to continue their strike or end it, reports CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds. But that means that the earliest that students could be back in the classroom would be Wednesday.

Lewis said because delegates had not seen anything in writing until Sunday, they did not want to vote to suspend the strike right away, before they had a chance to review the proposal in detail.

"They need the opportunity to have the time to do that, and I'd like to give it to them," Lewis said. "I think when they parse through, and actually look at some of the features of it, then they will feel a little bit more comfortable, but not having language for them on Friday was hard for them."

Few delegates who exited the Pilsen union hall where the decision was made would comment. Some appeared to disagree with the decision. Others defended it.

"The fact that we went on strike is agonizing. We all want to be teaching our students. That's why we're in it - we love them," says Dean Refakes, a physical education teacher. "There comes a time when we have to fight for our students and our parents in order to get the resources so we can properly educate them."

Mayor Emanuel is clearly frustrated by the walkout, so he's going to court, to try to force the teachers back to the classroom, reports Reynolds.

He argues that, by law, some of the issues the teachers are contesting are "non-strikable," and adds that the strike "endangers the health and safety of our children. "

In a written statement released Sunday evening, Emanuel said, "There is no reason why the children of Chicago should not be back in the classroom as they had been for weeks while negotiators worked through these same issues."

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According to a release from the union, the tentative deal would be a three-year contract, with an option for a fourth year. Both sides would have to agree to the fourth year of the deal. In the first year, teachers would get a 3 percent raise. In the second and third year of the deals, they would get a 2 percent raise. If the sides agree to a fourth year, teacher raises would be 3 percent that year.

In addition to the pay hikes, the contract also calls for: No merit pay (which had been sought by the district); preserving "step increases," which are based on teacher experience, with increased value for the three highest steps; hiring an additional 512 teachers in art, music, physical education, world languages, and other "special" subjects as part of the longer school day; new teachers evaluation rules; and requiring half of all CPS hires be previously laid-off teachers.

Other stipulations include a guarantee that all CPS students and teachers have textbooks on the first day of class; and reimbursing teachers up to $250 for out-of-pocket expenses on school supplies.