It's teacher hunting season!

Friday, August 10, 2012

At Chicago Teachers Union: "“Contract is not Settled; …We Continue To Bargain In Good Faith . . ."

Posted last night at the Chicago Teachers Union blog.
(Scroll to latter half of the post for recent news coverage on CTU president Karen Lewis and the union.)

"Contract is not Settled; …We Continue To Bargain In Good Faith and Members Continue to Prepare For A Work Stoppage
The Chicago Teachers Union is currently in contract negotiations with the Chicago Public Schools and has been since November 2011. While much has been made of the interim agreement in which the Union was able to successfully stop the threat of a 7 hour and 40 minute work day as well as force the District to hire displaced (tenured) teachers in over 500 new positions, the parties have not reached a new contract agreement.

Educators have been without a contract since June 30.

Despite the interim agreement, there are many open issues still on the negotiating table in which there has been little movement. Public school educators also remain concerned about the District’s refusal to provide adequate wrap-around services for students severely impacted by poverty and violence in addition to threats of ballooning class sizes. Teachers are concerned about the new evaluation process of which 40 percent of the review is based on how students perform on standardized tests. Job security, health benefits and teacher pay have not been resolved.

While we continue to bargain in good faith, CTU members continue to prepare for a work stoppage in September when most of them are required to return to the classroom. State law requires a “cooling off period” of 30 days after the issuing of a fact-finder’s report. At the end of this period, or thereafter, the CTU may strike provided it has first given the District a 10-day notice of the intent to strike.

It should be noted that movement at the bargaining table came only after nearly 10,000 people marched in downtown Chicago in support of a fair contract and more resources for neighborhood schools. This dramatic action was followed by a historic vote, where 90 percent of CTU members voted 98 percent to authorize a strike.

We recognize strikes are not popular. However, they are the strongest tool public workers have in ensuring their rights are not trampled upon and working conditions are fair and equitable. The CTU is fighting for strong, well-resourced neighborhood schools where students, regardless of their zip code, will have equal access to a high quality education.

Chicago is a world-class city and it deserves world-class neighborhood schools. Teachers, paraprofessionals and school clinicians are prepared to do what it takes to protect their jobs, their students and their schools.
"Union chief: Teachers should prepare for strike"

Rosalind Rossi, The Chicago Sun-Times, August 10, 2012

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis rattled the bargaining sabers Thursday, saying so many big issues remain on the negotiating table that teachers need to be prepared for a September strike. Lewis said there was “no chance’’ the teachers contract that expired June 30 will be resolved by Monday, when classes begin for about a third of the system on year-round school calendars.

After concluding their 41st day of contract talks Thursday, Chicago Public School and CTU negotiators “haven’t even gotten to compensation yet,’’ Lewis said.

“We haven’t gotten to the big sticking points because we’re trying to get the little ones off the table,’’ Lewis said. “I see slow progress.’’

Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard told reporters Thursday that negotiators were “making decent progress and I’m still hopeful and optimistic.’’

CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said the district was “pleased with the tone and encouraged by the progress being made.”

The CPS comments came after the CTU issued a news release, warning that teachers were still concerned about a new evaluation system that will link teacher ratings to student test results, job security, health benefits, pay and wrap-around services for students severely affected by poverty and violence.

“CTU members continue to prepare for a work stoppage in September when most of them are required to return to the classroom,’’ the news release warned.

“We need to have our people prepared,’’ Lewis said later in explaining the news release. “I don’t have any idea about what’s going to happen, but I know it’s ridiculous to sit back and pretend that everything is going to be settled and then scramble at the last minute when it’s not.’’

Under the law, the earliest teachers could strike would be Aug. 18, but first the union’s House of Delegates must set a strike date and the union must give CPS a 10-day heads-up of its intent to strike. School starts for most CPS students on Sept. 4, the Tuesday after Labor Day.

Lewis said the classes that start Monday in 243 CPS year-round schools will be a test drive of an 11th-hour interim deal that gives hundreds of laid-off teachers a crack at teaching jobs and keeps the typical teacher workday at about the same length. Those teachers will be working on an expired contract.

Kids, meanwhile, will get the longer school day promised by Mayor Rahm Emanuel — of seven hours.

Year-round principals only have one week to hire from a new pool of laid-off teachers before classes begin.

Lewis warned that “lots of things weren’t covered’’ in the interim deal and “we’re going to watch and see how it plays out because that will help inform our final agreement.’’

Contributing: Lauren FitzPatrick


  1. I really hope CPS and CTU can agree on the outstanding issues.If there is a strike, it would not be good for our city, the students, the parents or the teachers. There will be alot of negative social issues in lower income areas. I think it is in everyones best interest to come to a meeting of the minds and work it out.

  2. High school teachers are not typical teachers. We are prepping and teaching 7.5 hours per day. However, I usually arrive at 7:15 to set up my classroom for the day and leave at 5:00 to clean, grade, lesson plan, and meet, etc. That is 9.45 hours. That is a whole lot longer than Mr. Emanuel said it would be. Once our block schedule kicks in on Thursday, I will be with a single class for 108 minutes. 108 minutes. That is 18 more minutes per class. We used to have 90 minute blocks. The school day starts at 8:00 and ends at 3:30. The kids are NOT happy. We are trying to "sell" them on the concept. It is not an easy sell, trust me. (I say this because I heard wind that the mayor was talking to the "excited" kids-those were on the elementary level.)

    1. I am a parent of a CPS student, entering her senior year of high school. I don't know many teens who can focus on anything for 108 minutes.