Chicago teachers authorize their leaders to call a strike

CHICAGO — Chicago teachers have voted to authorize union leaders to call a strike as early as next month in the nation's third-largest school district.

The union's delegates are scheduled to meet next week to set an exact date. The earliest a strike could happen is Oct. 7.

The union and the school district have been negotiating for months over issues including pay, benefits and staffing shortages.

After three days of voting, the union announced late Thursday that members had overwhelmingly backed giving their leaders the authority to call a strike.

Among the union's demands is a 15% total raise over a three-year contract. The district has offered 16% over a five-year contract.

Chicago's last major teachers' strike was in 2012 and lasted seven school days.

Roughly 400,000 students attend district schools.