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As detailed in our eblast from last Friday, we are aware that CPS has directed principals that they cannot permit educators to work remotely even if they have no in-person students, unless they have applied for an accommodation. This is a clear violation of our Memorandum of Agreement with CPS on the resumption of in-person learning (“MOA”), and the Union filed a grievance today over it.

If this is happening at your school, please follow the steps outlined in the eblast from last Friday. As noted in the grievance, in addition to violating Section 8(b) of the MOA, CPS is also violating Section 8(e). Section 8(e) provides,

Bargaining unit employees who take unpaid, job-protected leave pursuant to subsections (b) and (d) above may be offered the opportunity to return from leave to provide remote instruction at any point during their leave at the Board’s discretion, based on the operational needs of schools.

This language is an important tool for members, PPCs, safety committees, and the Union as a whole. It was included in the MOA in recognition of the fact that it makes no sense for an educator to remain on an unpaid leave because they are uncomfortable returning to in-person work prior to being vaccinated, while their students continue to be taught remotely by a substitute. But, true to form, CPS decided to begin violating our MOA as soon as the ink on the agreement was dry.

While this language in Section 8(e) provides CPS discretion, one of the cardinal rules of labor law is that an employer cannot exercise its managerial discretion under an agreement in an arbitrary and capricious manner. In view of 8(e), forcing an educator with no in-person students to take an unpaid leave, then denying them the opportunity to return from leave to provide remote instruction without any good reason other than CPS’ counter-contractual desire to get as many people into school buildings as possible, is pretty close to a textbook definition of arbitrary and capricious abuse of employer discretion.

It is vitally important for us to work collectively to enforce this language. The Union intends to vigorously pursue the grievance, but, as always, our greatest strength lies in rank-and-file, building level organizing.