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Chicago Teachers Union Says Members Are Willing to Strike

The Chicago Teachers Union says that its members are willing to strike next year if it comes to that.

The union held what it called a "practice" vote last week to test its members' willingness to strike if there were mass layoffs next year.

The union reported on Monday that about 95 percent of its members participated in last week's ballot and that 97 percent of those who participated said they would be willing to take action if necessary, according to the Associated Press.

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The Chicago Tribune reports that the word "strike" never appeared in the questions that members were asked. Instead, they were asked questions about the leadership of schools CEO Forrest Claypool and Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other questions about the ongoing contract negotiations. (The teachers' union contract expired at the end of June.)

Jesse Sharkey, the union's vice president, told the Chicago Tribune that the word "strike" was not used in the questions for legal reasons.

The union started upping the strike rhetoric last week after Claypool wrote a Chicago Tribune op-ed that warned of staff cuts, including teachers, next February if the district did not get some financial help from the state. 

The district's 2015-16 school budget relies on nearly $480 million from the state, an amount that it is no closer to getting now than when the school board approved the budget in August.  

Claypool has sought to enlist the help of parents to lobby legislators in Springfield.

The last teachers' strike, the first in a quarter of a century, was in 2012, and it lasted for seven days.

Caption: Striking public school teachers march past John Marshall Metropolitan High School in West Chicago in September, 2012. --Sitthixay Ditthavong/AP-File

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