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Arbitration is the final step in our contract that can be used to resolve a grievance or dispute, and defined as the private, judicial determination of a dispute by an independent third party. When the Board of Ed moves to dismiss a tenured teacher for cause, the teacher is entitled to a hearing before an Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) hearing officer. There are several recent arbitration and ISBE cases of interest.

    • An arbitrator has rejected paying religious holiday pay for PSRPs, but members were handed a powerful victory in a similar case related to clinicians and counselors. In the PSRP case, the arbitrator said that since the language in Board Rules concerning paid religious holidays specifically mentioned teachers, and since there wasn’t a history of PSRPs receiving religious holiday pay when Good Friday was a working day (due to Good Friday always falling over Spring Break in the years immediately prior to 2015), PSRPs are not entitled to take the day as a paid holiday—though they could use a PB day or take a zero day for it. We attempted to argue discrimination, but the arbitrator held that different job categories receiving different benefits does not constitute “discrimination.” Good Friday falls over Spring Break this year, but the issue of religious holiday pay for PSRPs going forward is one we’ll address in our next contract, which we’ll begin bargaining over this summer, so stay tuned.
    • We won a powerful victory for clinicians and counselors on the PB issue—one that produced thousands of dollars in back pay for members—so many thanks to all of the members who testified in this case. The CTU filed a grievance in 2015 on behalf of clinicians and counselors who utilized the provision for religious holidays but who were never provided with substitutes. It’s been a long haul in this battle, but CPS has finally settled the case for more than $50,000. More than 200 clinicians and counselors just received pensionable checks as part of the settlement. In addition, CPS has agreed that it will not deduct substitute pay for clinicians when there are no substitutes provided. Members (below) came into CTU headquarters this week to pick up their checks and celebrate, along with the attorney on the case, Josiah Groff, and field representatives Joey McDermott and John Kugler.

      ILLUSTRATION: Clinicians settlement

    • We also recently won an important grievance related to REACH ratings, where CPS has been responding to many grievances by dismissing the procedural violations they raise as “de minimis”—too minor to warrant granting the grievance and overturning the rating. We strongly disagreed, arguing that if our contract requires it, the Board must do it, pointing to the word “should” in our contract as a mandate. The arbitrator in this case agreed that where the principal gives the teacher hard copies of evaluation feedback but fails to enter information into RLS, this indeed violated our contract and warranted overturning the teacher’s rating.

      The result? A veteran tenured teacher who was laid off out of seniority for an unsatisfactory rating was returned to work with full back pay and benefits! This case should also help us with future REACH grievances where procedural violations hurt our members’ ratings.

    • As you may be aware, CPS has increased its scrutiny and enforcement of possible sick day abuse, and has been performing numerous audits of our members. We recently received two ISBE dismissal decisions on alleged sick day abuse; one positive and one negative.

      ISBE ruled against a tenured teacher who did not request Union representation during the CPS investigation that led to her dismissal charges, and did not use available CTU legal assistance for her ISBE case, to which she was entitled. She instead chose to retain private counsel. The Board accused her of using sick days for a series of religious holidays over a period of many years. The ISBE hearing officer found that the evidence supported the Board’s allegations that she had engaged in fraud. She has been terminated and is currently appealing through the courts.

      ISBE ruled in favor of a tenured teacher who was arrested on serious charges but never convicted, and whose wife put in for his absence on AESOP for a day while he was in jail. He used PB days for subsequent court matters, and was not convicted of the charges that led to the arrest. The CTU represented the member in the ISBE hearing, where we argued—and the hearing officer agreed—that the teacher had worked for more than 20 years with no prior disciplinary record, there was insufficient evidence that the teacher’s conduct with respect to the sick day constituted an intentional misrepresentation and the evidence did not support the Board’s claims that the allegations that led to the teacher’s arrest were conduct unbecoming a CPS employee. The upshot? Our member has successfully retained his position.

ILLUSTRATION: Clinician settlement 2
In another CTU win, Washington, Juarez and Lincoln Park counselors received payouts totaling more than $200,000 after teaching classes for credit, setting a precedent that counselors would only be required to do counseling work.

Our Grievance Department, field representatives, organizers and legal and support staff are here to help delegates and members challenge contract violations through school PPCs, the grievance process and our organizing strategies. Talk to your field rep to learn more about how to use our contract and our union’s resources to protect your rights, your classroom conditions and your school community.