First, some important announcements.
- Mark your calendars for 7PM Sunday, October 13 for an all-member teletown hall on the status of bargaining. We’ll have an email out to our members Friday with more information.
- Wear your CTU Red on Friday and shoot our communications team your school solidarity pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on Twitter @ctulocal1 with the hashtags #PutItInWriting and #FairContractNow.
- Join us on Saturday for two strike-ready trainings, at 10A-noon and 1-3PM.
- Download our latest parent flyer and continue to reach out to our students’ families to make sure they know why we’re willing to strike for the schools our students deserve. Ask them to join us in demanding real equity and educational justice for our students.
- Join us at 2PM on Monday, October 14 as we rally and march with SEIU Local 73 to Stand Up for Educational Justice.
Second, watch today’s video bargaining update from our rank and file bargaining team members, below. The upshot of today’s bargaining is this: the president of the Board of Education, Miguel del Valle, came in today to talk to our bargaining team and told them he completely agrees with our proposals for equity and educational justice for our students. He also said CPS and the board will continue to flat out refuse to put any of our proposals in writing in an enforceable contract. And he, like the mayor and CPS yesterday, are now blaming the State of Illinois for their ‘inability’ to put In those promises in writing because of state ‘funding’ issues—even though the State is sending CPS a billion plus dollars a year to do precisely what we ask: lower class sizes, hire more school nurses, librarians, social workers and other critical staff, provide students with wrap-around supports and our school communities with desperately needed resources. So, another day of bargaining and no substantive motion on our critical issues.
We’ll continue to bargain Friday, Saturday and Monday, and have told CPS we’re open to bargaining beyond what’s already been scheduled. We’re prepared to go the extra mile—or ten miles or a hundred—to get a contract that respects our members and supports our students. We will NOT accept empty words in lieu of a hard agreement that brings real equity and educational justice to our school communities, our students, their families and our rank and file members.
Third—and this is critically important—CPS’ health care unfair labor practices are pushing us further towards a strike. The Executive Director of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board has ruled that CPS may have violated state law by unilaterally increasing CTU members’ health insurance premiums by 0.8% of salary earlier this year.
After CPS announced in late 2018 that it would be implementing the increase on January 1, 2019, CTU sent CPS a notice invoking the health care re-opener clause in our contract. In response to an unfair labor practice charge that the Union filed, the Executive Director of the IELRB has ruled “If the Union was correct to invoke the re-opener clause, there is evidence to suggest that [CPS] violated Section 14(a)(5) [of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act] by refusing to bargain and by imposing the 0.8% premium increase instead of maintaining the status quo pending negotiations.”
The Executive Director took the view that whether the circumstances triggered the re-opener clause is a question of contract interpretation that must be decided by an arbitrator. Thus, the Executive Director referred the case to arbitration to determine whether the re-opener was triggered, and the ULP will be held in abeyance pending an arbitrator’s decision.
Our House of Delegates has authorized a strike to begin October 17 based upon CPS’s unacceptable contract offers concerning mandatory subjects of bargaining. CPS’s unfair labor practice of jacking up educators’ health insurance costs and then refusing to bargain over them, left un-remedied, is another reason we expect to have to strike on October 17.
Continue to build solidarity in your school communities and your neighborhoods, wear your CTU red, join the growing chorus of support in social media—and stand strong in unity and solidarity. If it takes a strike to fight for and win what we demand, then we’ll be on the picket lines next Thursday. And when we fight, we win.
Jesse Sharkey, President