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Teachers Union to Negotiate School Board's Rescinding of Pay Raises

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jun 16, 2011 4:24PM

2011_6_ctu_logo.jpg The Chicago Teachers Union isn't taking yesterday's decision by the Chicago School Board to rescind a planned 4 percent pay raise for next school year lightly. CTU President Karen Lewis said that they plan on negotiating the decision with the school board, which could open the entire contract between CPS and the union up for negotiations and raise the possibility of the first teachers strike since 1987 if a compromise isn't reached.

Lewis said she was "shocked that the board would take any kind of action that would lead us in the direction to strike ... since they say they want labor peace." The School Board used a "reasonable expectations" clause to justify rescinding the pay raise, stating that, faced with a $712 million deficit, they cannot find the $100 million necessary to cover the raise. The Sun-Times printed an editorial this morning hinting that the pay freeze was inevitable and implored CTU to make a sacrifice for the good of the children.

But make no mistake: Chicago teachers have had it good while most workers in the public and private sector have not.

Chicago teachers for the last eight years have enjoyed healthy 4 percent annual raises, even as the economy tanked. Meanwhile, non-union CPS employees and principals went without raises and took as many as 15 furlough days.

And at least 74 percent of Chicago teachers will get a raise this fall no matter what.

On top of the 4 percent raise, most teachers get automatic raises for each extra year they work for CPS and get a salary bump for earning an advanced degree. The experience raises range from 1 to 5 percent, while degree raises average nearly 4 percent.

We know Chicago teachers have taken hits elsewhere. The city is underfunding their pension fund, a 2010 state law created less-generous pensions for new teachers and a state law signed Monday severely limits teachers’ right to strike. If the CTU fails to come to terms with CPS on the 4 percent raise, the door potentially opens to a strike. But effective Monday, 75 percent of all CTU members must approve a strike, up from 50 percent of those voting. The timing of Wednesday’s vote and Monday’s bill-signing is no coincidence.

But none of that makes a dent in CPS’ deficit — and that’s all that matters now.

Yeah, but taking money off the table could lead to CTU easily getting that necessary 75 percent threshold. Both Lewis and School Board President David Vitale made appearances on Chicago Tonight last night to stress their respective cases.



We've written for a while now that this bears watching. Now more than ever, this is being born out.