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Chicago Teachers Expected To Strike

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Chicago public-school officials said late last week that they expected teachers in the 450,000-student school system to strike as scheduled this Monday.

"It doesn't look good," said Kenneth Masson, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Education.

School and union officials in Chicago were expected to engage in contract negotiations through Saturday afternoon. If the dispute over wages and employee benefits is not resolved by then, leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union have said that the district's 28,000 teachers will strike.

At issue in the dispute is a school-board proposal that would require the district's 41,000 employees to pay up to 30 percent of their medical-insurance premiums. The teachers also have been asked to forgo any salary increase and to reduce their work year by four days. (See Education Week, Oct. 24, 1984.)

Legislative Bailout Fails

School and union officials were even less optimistic about reaching an agreement after the state legislature last Wednesday defeated by three votes a bill to provide Chicago public schools with an additional $28 million in state funds.

"There was a major question about how serious their need is,"3said Ross Hodel, a spokesman for Gov. James R. Thompson.

But school officials have said that they "have no choice" but to cut the benefits because of the district's limited funding sources and its balanced-budget requirement.

Union officials have said that teachers "will not tolerate" cuts in their medical coverage.

Last October, the teachers went on strike for 15 days after school officials proposed similar cuts in benefits.

Strikes in New Jersey

Last month, two strikes ended in New Jersey when teachers returned to work in Bayonne and Roselle.

The 11-day strike in Bayonne ended Nov. 20 after union and school officials agreed on a contract that provides for average pay increases of 24.9 percent over three years.

The strike in Roselle, the school district's second one this year, ended Nov. 26 when school and union officials agreed on a two-year contract that provides for an 8-percent salary increase this year and a 7.5-percent increase next year.

And a one-day strike last month by lay teachers in Camden, N.J., Roman-Catholic schools ended when teachers went back to work on Nov. 20.--cc

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