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Teachers Union Votes To Ratify New Contract

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 4, 2012 1:30PM

The Chicago Teachers Union took care of unfinished business Wednesday and voted to ratify the new labor deal they hashed out with Chicago Public Schools over two weeks ago.

The voting wasn’t even close: 79.1 percent of CTU members who cast ballots voted in favor of the contract, which CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin said was the highest approval rating in the history of the union. 16,428 of the 20,765 ballots cast were in favor of the new deal. CTU President Karen Lewis praised the vote.

“This shows overwhelming recognition by our members that this contract represents a victory for students, communities and our profession. Our members are coming are coming out of this with an even greater appreciation for the continued fight for public education. We thank our parents for standing with their children’s teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians.”

The deal still needs to be approved by the Chicago Board of Education. The three-year deal (with an optional fourth year) calls for the longer school day championed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel without adding to teachers work days; a cumulative 7 percent pay raise over the three guaranteed years in the contract; assistance for teachers displaced by school closings and consolidations while allowing principals to hire their own staffs; and performance evaluations where students’ performance in standardized testing will not exceed the state mandated 30 percent minimum requirement.

The Chicago School Board needs to make cuts to accommodate the estimated $74 million cost of the pay raises, but hasn’t said where those cuts will come from yet. They also will have their proposed list of school closings by Dec. 1. During Wednesday’s City Council meeting Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) sponsored a resolution to hold public hearings on those proposed closings.