We are pleased to report another favorable decision for the CTU in this week’s grievance and arbitration report, which resulted in three big wins:

  • No “blackout dates” for PB days
  • No time bar on PB day grievances
  • One grievance doesn’t cancel another

We also know that many are concerned about CPS’s move toward accepting more outside years of teaching experience. We have more information and action you can take below.

No blackout dates on PB days

This grievance involves three different teachers at Fairfield Elementary.

In this award, the arbitrator followed the recent rulings of the majority of arbitrators who had addressed the issue. She held that the Chicago Board of Education agreed in 2012 to remove blackout date restrictions on use of personal days, and that individual school principals cannot re-impose the same restrictions that the Board agreed to remove from our contract. Likewise, she followed those awards’ holding that some restrictions on use of personal days are allowed, where the principal can show that the request for a personal day had to be denied in order to assure adequate staffing at the school. She also noted that principals must take into consideration whether the teacher has special or emergency circumstances for requesting a personal day.

The arbitrator applied those principles to the specific circumstances of the three teachers in question, holding that one of them be awarded a new personal day because the principal wrongly denied her request to use a personal day on a day when no other teachers were expected to be absent. But the arbitrator held that the evidence on the whole indicated that the principal’s denials of personal day requests by two other members were reasonable, because the principal had approved other teachers’ personal day requests at those times.

There were also two procedural issues, with a ruling favorable to Union members on each.

No time bar on PB day grievances

First, the arbitrator agreed that a denied personal day from March 2016 could be considered, even though the grievance was not filed until June 2017. She noted that there is no specific timeline for filing an Article 3-8 grievance, and therefore found the grievance timely as to a denied personal day because the 15-month delay in grieving that issue did not prejudice the Board.

One grievance doesn’t cancel another

Second, the Board brought up that there had been a separate grievance on one instance of a denied personal day. The arbitrator helpfully held that one grievance on an issue does not bar another grievance on the same issue, at least until there is a final ruling from an arbitrator.

Advanced step placement for outside teaching experience

Chicago Public Schools is considering the 10 years outside experience policy change. CPS delayed the vote until the meeting in late February, which indicates that something is in the works but, of course, we don’t know what. What we do know is that for years, we have been advocating for CPS to give credit for more years of outside teaching and relevant work experience. The current policy only allows for two years of credit.

CPS is considering changing this policy now because we won in our
contract additional social workers, nurses, case managers, English
Language Program Teachers and more. The district is concerned about
attracting new candidates to work in CPS, but we know that the best way
to make CPS attractive is to make schools supportive and positive places
to work, and that competitive salaries that account for outside
experience help too.

While we wait for the district to make up its mind, you can email the Board of Education directly and demand the following:

  • That credit be given for outside experience, and for that credit to be retroactive.
  • If not retroactive, insist that the Board at least phase in the higher steps so that teachers new to CPS don’t leapfrog over someone who’s been teaching longer.

Members, understandably, don’t like the idea of other members receiving an incentive that they don’t get. While that may be how policies change, sometimes we want to make sure that—if passed by the Board—this policy is as fair as possible. We have an opportunity to advocate that any policy change is fair to members already working in schools. So we encourage you to click here to email the Board and advocate for the two above criteria regarding the policy change.