CHICAGO – Days before today’s hearing before the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board (IELRB), the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) sought to settle the dispute surrounding Chicago Public Schools (CPS) implementation of its longer school day program in 13 elementary schools and avoid a protracted legal battle. Last week, the IELRB issued a multi-count complaint against the District asserting that virtually every aspect of CPS’ scheme to induce elementary school teachers to vote for 90-minute school day extensions.
The CTU’s settlement proposal called for CPS to limit its pilot program to the 13 schools CPS has currently targeted for longer school days, validate the teacher votes approving the longer school days and appropriately compensate teachers and school employees for longer work hours.
The IELRB has ordered a hearing on its complaint for December 14. However, today, at 10:00 a.m. at 160 N. LaSalle in Room C-600, the board will consider whether to seek preliminary injunctive relief to block the extended school day from taking effect pending the conclusion of its unfair labor practice proceeding.
“We want CPS to follow the contract and follow the law,” said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “The Union wants what’s in the best interest of our students and our members–and that means if we are going to move to a longer school day that we want our teachers compensated and we want a rich, broad curriculum that provides them with a competitive, world-class education our students deserve. We also want to use this time as a planning year and not do things in a rushed, haphazard way without teacher and community input.”
Lewis said “We have attempted to have an open dialog with CPS on how to extend the school day but in best interest of our students and the employees in our schools. Teachers want to be treated fairly, parents want a high quality education for their children, and no one wants to put our students in a political crossfire that has little to do with their academic growth. Longer school day is a political slogan. It is not an education plan. Because of the importance of this issue, we have reached out to CPS to attempt to bridge our differences, in spite of conduct we believe was illegal, but the response has been negative.”
The IELRB complaint alleges that CPS unlawfully threatened and coerced teachers who participated in school votes to extend the day, including by threatening possible school closures if they did not support it. The labor board also found that CPS offered teachers illegal inducements, such as lump sum payments, iPads and extra compensatory days off, in exchange for voting to extend the school day. The complaint also alleges CPS’ actions interfere with employee rights, unlawfully discourage teachers from supporting the Union, and undermined the Union’s legitimate role as bargaining representative on behalf of CPS teachers, violating Sections 14 (a) (1), (3) and (5) of the Educational Labor Relations Act.
The Chicago Teachers Union represents 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools and, by extension, the students and families they serve. CTU, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, is the third largest teachers local in the country and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information visit CTU’s website at www.ctunet.com