We’ve recently leveraged powerful wins on personal business days in arbitration, advanced our fight for hazard pay for members, and made important progress in strategic bargaining on PSRP summer in-person assignments and securing drivers ed instructors’ second semester pay. Scroll down to learn more! NOTE: We’ve added in a link that was missing under PSRP summer assignments.
Potential for Retroactive Hazard Pay
Since March 17 when schools closed due to COVID19, CTU bargaining unit members should not have been asked to perform in-person work, with a limited number of exceptions for voluntary assignments that were eligible for hazard pay. This continues to be the case. It has come to the Union’s attention that certain principals have evidently nonetheless requested that CTU bargaining unit members come into school buildings at different points over the course of the past 3 months to perform various tasks.
The best course when principals make such requests is to alert the Union so we can ensure that CPS immediately directs the principal that such requests are prohibited. For more information, contact your field rep.
But, for instances between March 17 and June 18 where CTU members performed in-person work at the request of their supervisor, we have asked CPS to provide retroactive hazard pay. CPS has taken this proposal under advisement.
To aid in the Union’s push to secure this pay, please fill out this survey if you were requested to, and did, perform any in-person work during this timeframe.
Personal Business Day Arbitration Awards Affirm our Contractual Rights
This spring, the Union received the ninth arbitration award over the past two years in cases concerning CPS’s attempts to improperly restrict members’ use of personal business days. We have won 8 of the 9 cases (with the single loss subsequently overturned by other arbitrators), establishing important precedent regarding our hard won contractual rights. In the latest case, out of Prosser, Arbitrator Clauss ruled in our favor on three out of four challenged restrictions on personal business days in the Prosser handbook. He held that teachers should be allowed to use PB days as follows: (a) adjacent to vacation and holiday periods; (b) for vacation-type purposes; and (c) on self-directed school improvement days. However, Arbitrator Clauss allowed the principal’s three-teacher-per-day limit on use of PB days, where the principal said he would allow more than three if a teacher had an emergency.
Thus, altogether we have the following rulings:
- Arbitrator Kenis’s ruling on use of personal days for vacation by teacher Marchman-Davis from Corliss H.S. She ruled that schools cannot bar use of personal days for vacation if there is no handbook explaining that. (Of course, since then, almost all schools now have created handbooks saying this.)
- Arbitrator Malaud’s ruling on use of a personal day around Thanksgiving break by teacher Coughlan at Pulaski. He ruled that a principal “may not insist on a reason for taking the business leave” but “may regulate the number of teachers taking off on a particular day based on staffing needs.” Pulaski’s principal allowed two other teachers to take off the day before Thanksgiving break, so Arbitrator Malamud granted Coughlan’s grievance because there was no reason to treat her differently.
- Arbitrator Brennwald’s ruling on teacher Pineda’s use of a personal day to extend her Presidents Day weekend for a family trip. Arbitrator Brennwald ruled that the Board has “inherent authority” to regulate leave benefits, absent clear contract language to the contrary which he did not find in our contract. He held that this “inherent authority” includes the right to deny use of personal days for vacation purposes.
- Arbitrator Cohen’s ruling on Lynch’s case out of Suder Montessori, essentially following Arbitrator Malamud to rule that there can only be restrictions on personal days where the restrictions can be justified based on the needs of the school. Specifically, Arbitrator Cohen held that a teacher who requests a personal day to extend a vacation should be granted it where he requests it well in advance. Arbitrator Cohen expressly disagreed with Arbitrator Brennwald on the question of whether personal days can be used for vacation-type purposes.
- Arbitrator Malamud’s second award on personal days, striking down Stowe Elementary’s “blackout” for personal days around holidays and for the month of June, but allowing the principal to limit the number of personal days to two per day (if there is an exception for emergencies).
- Arbitrator Clauss’s ruling in Owolabi’s case out of Nancy Jefferson that sudden unexplained changes to rules about use of personal days are not allowed, because rules must be justified and provided in advance to teachers.
- Arbitrator Ross-Jackson’s ruling involving three teachers at Fairfield Elementary, upholding the grievance where the principal could not show that there were any staffing issues, but denying the grievance to the extent the principal could show evidence that the denial of a personal day request was based on staffing issues.
- Arbitrator Ross-Jackson’s ruling on the rules about personal days in the handbook for Related Service Providers. She agreed with other arbitrators that restrictions on the purpose of the personal day are not justifiable. But she allowed restrictions on calendar dates for using personal days and advance notice requirements, provided those rules are applied flexibly in particular circumstances.
- Now, Arbitrator Clauss’s award on the Prosser HS handbook, striking down restrictions on using personal days around breaks, for vacation-type purposes, and over self-directed PD days. But, like other arbitrators, he allowed the principal to set a maximum daily limit on teachers taking personal days.
Agreement on PSRP Summer In-person Assignments
The Union has reached an agreement in principle with CPS on the terms of in-person assignments for PSRPs during the summer. As with End of Year duties, PSRP summer assignments are voluntary; in other words, your supervisor cannot require that you perform in-person work or come to the school building. CPS COVID safety protocols also remain in place for all such work, and CPS will inform principals in writing of both of the above requirements. Pay for voluntary in-person assignments will be at employees’ regular rate.
Drivers’ Education Updates
CTU has raised repeatedly in strategic bargaining concerns we are hearing from our members who are drivers’ education instructors. The Union is aware that a number of drivers’ education instructors have not received payments for those courses over the last several months during remote learning. The Union believes that instructors are entitled to this pay pursuant to the directives issued by the Governor and ISBE in March that require all school employees to continue to receive their regular pay during remote learning. CPS indicated they are working to ensure these payments are made, and the Union will take all steps necessary to make sure that happens. The Union has also inquired with CPS about any plans for the resumption of drivers’ education instruction. CPS has informed us that they have no such plan as of yet. As with all bargaining unit member work, we will demand that any such plans put the safety of students and teachers first, comply with our contract, and adhere to all applicable public health guidelines.