UPDATE: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said "No union members will be inside schools Monday. Instead they will be picketing outside of schools," she said.
"We have failed to reach an agreement that will prevent a labor strike," Lewis said. This is a difficult decision and one we hope we could avoid."
The Chicago Teachers Union has called a news conference for 10 p.m. Sunday to discuss contract talks with the Chicago Public Schools.
The two sides have been meeting at the union’s Merchandise Mart headquarters since 11 a.m. Sunday trying to beat a midnight strike deadline.
The union’s House of Delegates would have to meet to call off a strike. As of 7 p. m., no meeting had been called.
Unless the two reach an agreement on a new contract by midnight today, Chicago's 25,000 unionized public school teachers are expected to walk off the job for the first time in 25 years.
A union official said she expects a "reasonable cutoff of negotiations on Sunday" and that if a deal is reached, a delegate vote could be held within an hour.
School board President David Vitale said after talks ended about 9 p.m. Saturday that the district presented the union with an updated proposal covering issues including wages, job security and health care.
"It does cover all of the issues that they have raised, and it has been responsive to those issues," Vitale said. "This is a proposal that we believe is very close to what is needed to get a deal. We have listened and we have moved dramatically on almost all of the issues."
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis was less optimistic but said progress was made with the latest contract proposal.
"It's an improved offer," Lewis said. "I don't know that I'd use the term 'dramatically.' "
There are still unresolved issues, but it seemed like the board was finally starting to talk about some of the things the teachers care about most, Lewis said.
"We have high hopes that when we get back together tomorrow we can move to the endgame," Vitale said.
Officials from the district and the union have sent mixed signals on the status of talks in the last several days, alternating between optimism and grim pessimism, possibly reflecting the volatility of negotiations.
Things seemed to be going well Thursday after Vitale, who helped negotiate teacher contracts in 2003 and 2007, sat in for the first time. Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey said Vitale's presence allowed the union to be "very forthcoming" in expressing what it would take to seal a deal.
Shortly after Saturday's session began about noon, Sharkey said at a news conference that the proposal made by the district Friday "was disappointing, to say the least."
There were still "not enough pieces to the puzzle there yet to make a picture," Sharkey said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has not been involved directly in talks, but Beth Swanson, his deputy chief of staff on education, has been at the table for about two weeks.
The sticking points addressed Saturday include raises, a recall policy for laid-off teachers and a plan for implementing a new state-mandated teacher evaluation system.
Teachers in Chicago, according to state data, make on average $71,000 a year, and the union rejected the district's last known offer of 2 percent increases each year for four years, saying teachers deserve more because of the longer school day that Emanuel successfully pushed.
The union's pay proposal is not known, but teachers earlier were asking for a 19 percent hike in the contract's first year.
The district backed off its demand for merit pay in the face of union opposition, but CPS still wants to end annual raises for experience.
Saturday's news conference outside CTU's strike headquarters at Teamster City was attended by pro-union community groups including Parents 4 Teachers and 19th Ward Parents, as well as officials from other unions.
Becky Malone of 19th Ward Parents, playing off the district's Children First strike contingency plan, said "the city has not put children first because they have put their teachers last."
Service Employees International Union Local 1 President Tom Balanoff said the district's janitors are contractually obligated to work in the event of a strike but would be wearing red handkerchiefs Monday in support of teachers.
At another news conference Saturday, members of the Black Star Project, which tutors and mentors Chicago-area students, lashed out at the teachers union and CPS, saying a strike would only worsen the situation for underperforming schools.
Dorothy Davis, Black Star director of operations, said parents don't think the district's backup plans are a good solution, either.
"Parents are afraid the streets are going to embrace (their children) instead," Davis said.
I support unions 100%, however the students will suffer more from this than anyone. With whats been happening in Chicago all summer, this is not a good look at all.
I hope the two sides can come to an agreement sooner than later. Update: Teachers will be on strike, union president says - chicagotribune.com