A 2-week strike against the Nation’s third largest publicschool system ended when the Chicago Board of Education and the AmericanFederation of Teachers agreed on a 1-year contract. The stoppage involved 28,000 teachers and 12,000 members of 17 other unions whoaccepted similar terms. The teachers’ contract called for a 4.5-percent salaryincrease effective December 17 and one-time bonus in March 1985 equal to2.5 percent of earnings during 1984. The board also agreed to resumepaying the full cost of medical insurance, as it had done since 1971.
Earlier, the board had moved to ease its fiscal problems by requiringthe employees to begin paying 25 percent of the cost, which became amajor issue in the dispute. To some extent, medical cost will bemoderated by a new plan under which the board will contract with certainhospitals to treat employees. If the employees use other hospitals,they will have to pay higher deductibles. In another cost-containment move, the parties agreed to make uponly 5 of the 10 school days lost due to the strike.
The board alsovoted to cut the number of teaching positions, reduce funds formaintenance and supplies, and eliminate a proposed plan to improveacademic standards. scheduled to expire in July 1985. The cut affected8,000 union members plus 4,000 nonunion employees who had earlier agreedto the plan. The company, which lost $15.5 million in the third quarter of 1984,attributed its difficulties to lack of finances and management talent tocarry out a diversification plan.