(Newsroom America) -- The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) says members will begin striking today for the first time since 1987 with over 26,000 teachers and support staff walking off the job.
CTU has been in contract negotiations with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) since November 2011.
Teachers have been without a contract since June of this year after its five-year agreement with the District expired without a new agreement in place.
Negotiations broke down on Sunday according to CTU and the Chicago board of education, with hundreds of thousands of children needing to be kept occupied while classes remain empty.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis was reported as saying the two sides were close to a resolution on compensation, but were far apart on other issues including health benefits.
A frustrated Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said both sides were close to an agreement and the negotiations could be resolved if both sides kept talking.
In May, nearly 10,000 teachers, paraprofessionals and school clinicians marched in downtown in preparation for a strike authorization vote which drew a 98 percent approval from CTU membership. Only 1.82 percent of CTU members voted against authorizing a strike.
On August 29 the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) filed a 10-day notice with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board indicating more than 26,000 public school teachers, clinicians and paraprofessionals may go on strike. The notice was a legal requirement defined by state law.