August 30, 2012

> >Chicago Headed Toward First Teachers Strike in 25 Years

>CTU files 10-day strike notice with labor board; strike date has not been
>CHICAGO - Today, 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 in
>coming days. The notice is a legal requirement defined by state law. No date
>for a strike has been set by Union leaders. The House of Delegates will meet
>Thursday at
>4:30 p.m. to talk next steps.
>Should CTU members call for a work stoppage, this will be the first
>"teachers' strike" in Chicago since 1987. "This is a difficult decision for
>all of us to make," said union President Karen Lewis.
>"But this is the only way to get the Board's attention and show them we are
>serious about getting a fair contract which will give our students the
>resources they deserve."
>"CPS seems determined to have a toxic relationship with its employees,"
>Lewis said. "They denied us our 4 percent raises when there was money in the
>budget to honor our agreement; they attempted to ram a poorly thought out
>longer school day down our throats; and, on top of that they want us to
>teach a new curriculum and be ready to be evaluated based on how well our
>students do on a standardized test.
>It has been insult after insult after insult. Enough is enough."
>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. Labor leaders have said they are negotiating for
>a "better day, job security and fair compensation for employees."
>Labor talks have been productive on some fronts such as winning provisions
>for nursing mothers, ensuring textbooks will be available on day one,
>teachers will have access to functioning computers and counselors and social
>workers will have appropriate, private workspaces to serve students. But
>the bigger issues such as wages, job security and evaluations are on the
>table and the two sides remain far apart. "We will have a contract," Lewis
>said, "and it will come the easy way or the hard way. If our members are on
>the picket-line, we will still be at the negotiating table trying to hammer
>out an equitable agreement. There's a larger picture here."
>Teachers, paraprofessionals and school clinicians have been vocal in their
>opposition to CPS' draconian policies. In May, nearly 10,000 of them 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. Member angst was driven by CPS' overly
>aggressive push for a longer school day without indicating how the District
>would staff and pay for the program. Educators were angry that the Board
>made no commitments to offering students the much needed art, music,
>physical education and world language classes they needed.
>In July, and much to CPS' chagrin, a much anticipated "Fact Finder's
>Report" recommended, in part, that CPS's longer school day amounts to a
>19.4% increase on average that teachers will have to work, and he determined
>that CPS cannot expect its employees to work nearly 20% more for free or
>without fair compensation. Accordingly, the Fact-Finder's report recommends
>both a general wage increase and an additional increase due to the length of
>the school day: A general wage increase of 2.25% for School Year 2012 --
>essentially a cost of living increase -- without any changes to existing
>steps and lanes. He also recommends an additional increase of 12.6% to
>compensate teachers for working a longer school day and year representing a
>combined first-year increase of 14.85%, plus existing step and lane
>adjustments. Both the CTU and the Board rejected the findings.
>"We have chronic underfunding and misplaced priorities in the system,"
>said high school teacher Jen Johnson. "CPS would rather shut down schools
>rather than give them the resources they need. Thousands of students have
>been displaced by CPS' school actions. Teachers are losing their jobs and
>parents have no choice but to keep their child in an under-resourced
>neighborhood school or ship them off to a poor-performing charter
>Lewis said members are also concerned about the Board's plan to close over
>100 neighborhood schools and create a half public-half charter school
>district. "This education crisis is real especially if you are Black or
>Brown in Chicago," she explained. "Whenever our students perform well on
>tests, CPS moves the bar higher, tells them they are failures and blames
>their teachers. Now they want to privatize public education and further
>disrupt our neighborhoods. We've seen public housing shut down, public
>health clinics, public libraries and now public schools. There is an attack
>on public institutions, many of which serve, low-income and working-class
>T 312-329-9100 | F 312-329-6200

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