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Talk of a Teachers' Strike in Chicago Gets Real

Chicago teachers rallied earlier this week in the city's Grant Park, promising a strike if it can't reach a satisfactory deal.  

The union representing teachers and others the nation's third-largest school district also formally requested a fact-finder, the first step in the long road towards a strike.

"We must show the city, the mayor's handpicked Board of Education and even our students and parents that Chicago's public school educators will stand up for what is just and fair, and together we will fight to protect our professions and our classrooms," CTU President Karen Lewis said according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

In Chicago, ultimately 75 percent of the bargaining unit has to approve a strike. The union says it has more than enough support, although some have questioned the validity of a so-called "practice strike" vote it held earlier this month.

According the Sun-Times' estimate, given the time the fact-finder process takes, the strike could likely not begin until the end of this school year.

Chicago teachers walked off the job for seven days in 2012 over salary, teacher evaluation, seniority and teacher-placement issues, and rumors of school closings. 

The current contract expired June 30.

It's less clear what the major disagreements are this time, although funding is clearly a huge part of it. The Chicago district is desperately in need of cash, passing a budget with a $500 million hole in it while it's sought more from state lawmakers in Springfield. That money has, so far, not been forthcoming.

The union also wants an elected school board, rather than one staffed by mayoral appointees.

lllinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, meanwhile, has taken steps aimed at weakening unions' coffers, at one point even seeking an executive order to stop unions from collecting fair-share fees of nonmembers. 

Currently, Chicago teacher salaries range between $50,653 to $97,695, 

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