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Majority of Chicago Teachers Union Members Agree to Contract Offer

After nearly two years without a contract, more than 70 percent of the members of the Chicago Teachers Union voted this week to approve a tentative deal from the school district.

The union's more than 27,000 members—made up of teachers, paraprofessionals, and others—cast ballots on the four-year contract offer on Monday and Tuesday this week.

The union said on Tuesday night that 72 percent of members had voted in favor of the tentative deal. The Chicago Tribune reported that the Chicago school district's school board will vote on the contract at a Dec. 7 meeting. 

"This has taken nearly two years to reach a fair contract settlement," Karen Lewis, the union's president, said in a statement. "Now educators can focus their full energies on their classrooms as we continue to fight for equity throughout the district."

The district and the union reached a tentative agreement  near the Oct. 11 deadline and averted a planned union strike.

The district agreed to continue paying 7 percent of current union members pension contributions. New teachers will have to pay the full cost of the pension contribution, beginning in 2017. The union also got concessions on class sizes, with the district agreeing to send more money to over-enrolled elementary classrooms.

The cash-strapped district has said the deal with the union will save it about $400 million when compared with the previous contract, but it has not really offered details on how it plans to pay for it.

District CEO Forrest Claypool is expected to address those questions at a press conference on Wednesday. 

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