PHOTOS: Teachers union rallies for fair contract on Labor Day - FOX 32 News Chicago

PHOTOS: Teachers union rallies for fair contract on Labor Day

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Chicago Teachers Union held a big rally in Daley Plaza this Labor Day, rallying in a show of strength and solidarity to fight for jobs, dignity and a fair contract.

As of Monday morning, there is still no contract between the CTU and the Chicago Public School district.

Daley Plaza transformed into a sea of red, representing the union at around 10:30 a.m. More than 10,000 showed their support at the rally, spearheaded by CTU President Karen Lewis, and spilled onto the streets to spread their message.

"The last week has been a roller coaster of emotions for most of us," union member Linda said. "[We're feeling] anxiety, fear, excitement, anger, disappointment - and pretty much just tired of being rolled over by the system. I expect a great showing of all the Chicago teacher union members."

"We're here because we want to show the Mayor that all the unions support each other," Bill Dougherty, a member of the Fraternal Order of Police said.

"My daughter is a CPS student and I want her to have attention from her teacher," a teacher and parent, Catherine Stillwell added.

Be united, passionate, and disciplined – those were the only guidelines for thousands attending Monday's rally.

Lewis had harsh words for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

"[He's a] liar and a bully," Lewis said. "The only way to beat a bully is to stand up to a bully! We did not start this fight. Enough is enough. This fight is for the very soul of public education."

The chant against the Mayor grew louder as the group marched through the streets of downtown Chicago.

Mayor Emanuel told FOX Chicago News, he has heard the name calling.

"It's not about me. It's not about the leadership of the teachers union. It's about the teachers and our students. And we are having a new beginning in our schools. Our kids are now getting a full school day and a full school year," Mayor Emanuel added.

Teachers had some major support from police officers, firefighters, nurses, postal workers and other labor union leaders. Fraternal Order of Police leader Michael Shields was one of the featured speakers at the Labor Day rally.

"I want to remind Mayor Emanuel and all the other politicians here," Shields said, "that we are proud servants, we are not indentured servants."

He asked Chicago residents not to forget that the teachers are fighting for them – union members are standing strong together to fight for the benefit of the entire community, by providing the best form of education for their children as they can.

Posters filled the crowd, hoping to send a strong message to city leaders. Supporters said the strike is an act of bravery, sacrifice, and commitment to the students of Chicago Public Schools.

At one point they chanted, "Workers united will never be divided," and a woman sang "Solidarity Forever" in the background.

Despite having negotiations through the holiday weekend, there is still no deal between teachers and the school board. The first teachers' strike in 25 years is scheduled to take place if a deal cannot be reached by Sept. 9.

The walk-off would be the culmination of nine months of failed negotiations, unless both sides can come to a deal on key issues such as teacher raises, salary, the rehiring process of laid off teachers and resources for students.

CPS students are scheduled to begin classes tomorrow. They will have books, school supplies and working computers available to them. But they will not have their teachers, if a fair contract cannot be reached.

The strike is scheduled to begin Sept. 10.

CPS unveiled its contingency plan "Children First" last week, which says 145 schools will remain open Monday-Friday from 8:30-12:30.

The schools will be staffed by non-union staff, principals and other administrators. They'll offer student enrichment programs, healthy meals and a place to go during the mornings when their parents are at work.

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