Bargaining has increased in frequency, but has not broken through, as CPS continues to avoid movement on key substantive issues. CPS made proposals this week about decreasing teacher directed prep time, increasing testing, and rolling back important wins we secured on grading, evaluation and virtually everything in the last two contracts. That’s an insult to every single member who fought for these changes and who works to hold up our school communities.
Our bargain team PSRPs made a substantive proposal on pay increases and a lane structure for PSRPs. We also made a presentation on a series of smaller but still vital demands, including supply money and self-serve payroll. CPS has not yet responded to most of those items. Meanwhile, the Board has publicly chastised our proposals on staffing, class size, and other critical issues. Instead of bargaining on these crucial proposals, their lawyer sent the union a nasty, dishonest letter, and—of course—leaked it to the press. CPS prefers to spin their negotiating positions in the media, while offering nothing but rollbacks at the table. Again, another insult to members—built on CPS’ refusal to put the mayor’s promises to improve either our working conditions or our students’ learning conditions in writing.
A week from today, at 7PM on Sunday, September 22, our rank and file bargaining team will hold an all-member tele-town hall to provide updates and answer your calls about where we’re at and what we continue to demand at the table. Look for emails this week about joining us by phone for that tele-town hall.
As a candidate, the mayor promised truly transformative changes for our school communities, from a librarian and school nurse in every building every day, to real equity and educational justice for students, families and educators. CPS has the money—more than a billion dollars in new annual funding over 2016 funding levels. Yet her bargaining team is still stalling on putting those promises in writing, even as more than 700 classrooms on September 3 had no permanent teacher, barely one in ten Black-majority schools has a librarian, and hundreds of schools started the school year with deep budget cuts in already grossly underfunded school communities.
We have an opportunity with this new contract to fundamentally improve our schools ONLY if we get CPS promises in writing. Even presidential candidates are rallying in on our contract fight. This week Bernie Sanders tweeted: “I stand with the educators and support staff of @CTULocal1 and @SEIU73 in their fight for the schools Chicago’s students deserve. It’s unconscionable for wealthy corporations to receive massive tax breaks while children go without school nurses and librarians.” Check it out—and share it widely.
Our unity, as always, is our greatest strength at the bargaining table and in our buildings, so talk to your co-workers, build for 100% turnout for our scheduled strike authorization vote, and continue to reach out to parents about what we’re fighting for at the table. Check out our website’s contract action page—including our resource page—for information, breaking news, parent fliers and more. With unity, we can and will win the schools our students and educators deserve.
President, Chicago Teachers Union