More than 29,000 school teachers and support staff are on strike in Chicago for a second day in the first such act of work stoppage in 25 years.
Thousands of the striking teachers, joined by protesting parents and schoolchildren, formed picket lines outside empty schools across the city on Monday amid stalemated contract talks between Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Chicago Teachers Union (CTU).
The protesters held up placards reading, “On strike” and “Fair contract now!” Video footage showed a protest leader shouting, “What do we want?” and “When do we want?” with the protesters responding, “Contract” and “Now.”
The move prompted the parents of 350,000 students between kindergarten and high school age to scramble to find alternative supervision.
The strike is the latest phase in the months-long dispute between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the union.
The protesters fear the standoff would result in more school closures in America's third largest city.
“If you got the money to pay a basketball player a million dollars, how come you can’t pay these teachers?” asked one protesting parent, speaking to Press TV.
“There's no excuse for either side for not coming to an agreement," said Faith Griggs-York, the mother of a first-grader, who had been brought to a community centre away from her school.
“I think both sides, because of what they are doing to parents and because of what they are doing to kids, should be embarrassed,” Griggs-York asserted.
On Sunday, talks between the CPS and the CTU failed to resolve concerns over the teachers’ pay and job security among other matters.
The standoff threatens to sour relations between US President Barack Obama's Democratic Party and labor unions ahead of the November 6 presidential election.