Chicago Public Schools (CPS) have failed to reach an agreement: Strike Begins

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) have failed to reach an agreement that will prevent the first teachers strike in 25 years. Pickets are expected to begin Monday at 675 schools and the Board of Education as early as 6:30 a.m. Teachers, paraprofessionals and school clinicians have been without a labor agreement since June of this year.

Union leaders expressed disappointment in the District’s refusal to concede on issues involving compensation, job security and resources for their students. CTU President Karen Lewis said, “Negotiations have been intense but productive, however we have failed to reach an agreement that will prevent a labor strike. This is a difficult decision and one we hoped we could avoid. Throughout these negotiations have I remained hopeful but determined? We must do things differently in this city if we are to provide our students with the education they so rightfully deserve.

“Talks have been productive in many areas. We have successfully won concessions for nursing mothers and have put more than 500 of our members back to work. We have restored some of the art, music, world language, technology and physical education classes to many of our students. The Board also agreed that we will now have textbooks on the first day of school rather than have our students and teachers wait up to six weeks before receiving instructional materials.

“Recognizing the Board’s fiscal woes, we are not far apart on compensation. However, we are apart on benefits. We want to maintain the existing health benefits

So the strike begins.  Or as Karen Lewis says in “happy talk,” No CTU members will be in schools in the morning.  From Karen’s speech in front of the school it sounds like the CTU will be digging in their heels and are saying that unless their desires are met, there will be no contract.  She would not prioritize the sticking points for the press, as they are all important to the CTU.  We could be in for a long strike.  How much more will CPS relax their offer?  How long will teachers go before they are willing to negotiate?

The Chicago Board of Education is offering the Chicago Teachers Union a Fair and Reasonable Proposal

to Set the Stage for a Deal and Avoid a Strike:

Increases in Pay: 16 percent average salary increase equaling $380 million over the next four years, including COLA (3% year 1; 2% years 2,3,4) lanes and modified step increases that both reward experience and provides better incentives for mid-career teachers to help keep them serving in the Chicago Public School system.

New Opportunities and Security for Laid Off Teachers:

  • Teachers displaced due to school closings: will receive a job at a school receiving their students if there is a vacancy; placed in a reassigned teacher pool for five months or may elect to receive a three-month lump sum severance; or placed in a Quality Teacher Force Pool in which teachers who apply for positions shall be entitled to an interview and explanation if not hired.
  • Teachers displaced due to turnarounds or phase outs: placed in a reassigned teacher pool for five months or may elect three-month lump sum severance.
  • Teachers displaced for other reasons: shall have recall rights for one year for the same unit and position and will be offered interim assignment in substitute teacher pool.

Joint Implementation of Teacher Evaluations with Flexibility When Needed: The Board has proposed to work jointly with CTU to fully implement REACH Students and maintain performance standards and student growth requirements. This proposal will also allow CPS and CTU to study REACH’s implementation jointly and make adjustments as needed.

New Short-Term Disability Policy, Including First-Ever Paid Maternity Leave: While the banking of sick days will end, the Board will offer short-term disability to all CTU members, including paid-maternity leave. Employees will no longer need to use sick days to take time off needed for the birth of a child – nor will they need to bank the number of sick days needed before starting their family planning. Employees who have a short-term illness will not have to use sick days in order to take time needed to get well; short-term disability coverage will cover their needs and provide pay while recovering. The proposal will protect accrued sick-day accumulation for teachers with over 15 years of service in the form of pension service credits.

CPS to Cover Part of Employee Pension Contribution: The Board has also offered to continue picking up 7% each employee’s 9% pension contribution.

Freeze on Health Care Contributions for Most Plans:  The Board is calling for a modification to the health care plan funding that will freeze all employee health care contributions for single and couple plans with a small increase in family contributions of no more than $20 a pay period in addition to a small increase in emergency room co-pays.  67 percent of all CTU members will not see a change to their healthcare.

Increased Opportunity for Promotion: The Board proposes that CPS and CTU collaborate and work together to increase promotion opportunities and identify differentiated compensation models that have worked in other places.

Improved Health and Living: Like the nearly 40,000 City employees who have already signed up for the Wellness program, the Board is asking teachers to join the program at no cost. Teachers can opt-out of Wellness, and pay a small premium differential.

Improved Monitoring of Class Size Issues: The Board remains committed to protecting and maintaining current class sizes, but will establish a panel and joint supervisory committee with the CTU to monitor and address any class size issues that may arise.

Creation of a New CTU/CPS Commission to Find Fair Pension Funding Solution: The Board pledges to partner with the CTU through the formation of a Legislative Commission to find the right solutions for pension reform and draft legislation that ensures equitable pension funding.

A Better, Fuller Calendar: Maintain a calendar with 180 student attendance days, and 190 teacher workdays, including 10 Professional Development days.

A Full School Day: The newly extended Elementary school day will continue to be 7 hours, while high school days will now be 7.25 hours, a decrease from 7.5 hours. In addition, high school teachers will be limited to teaching only five classes.

 

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