Despite challenges around personal business days and the difficulty the Union has in combating CPS resistance to these cases, we continue to see arbitration victories for our members. In a recent victory, an independent arbitrator ruled that the Board of Ed cannot impose a time limit on teachers’ retroactive applications for paid leave benefits, because the Board has never told teachers there is a time limit.

In June 2017, a teacher at a North Side selective enrollment school decided to take a personal day, requesting a substitute through the Aesop system and taking the day off. More than a year later, he realized that he had failed to log a few absences into Kronos through the self-serve system, including that personal day. He had missed pay for that handful of days, yet didn’t notice at the time. To receive pay for those days, however, he completed and turned in the Board’s “historical correction” request form for each such day. The Board made retroactive corrections for his sick days and missed swipes, but said that this personal day had expired at the end of the 2016-17 school year, so he could not claim it in the 2017-18 school year.

CTU counsel found the Board’s position on this strange, since the member requested a substitute to cover for him for a personal day in June 2017 and no one ever told him that he was AWOL for that day. He clearly took a personal day, but a question remained regarding the paperwork of getting paid for it. The Arbitrator agreed with CTU counsel, rejecting the Board’s argument that it had informed the teacher that Kronos self-serve was needed in order to be paid. The arbitrator also agreed that the Board’s rules directing teachers to use Kronos self-serve are only about making sure teachers are paid correctly in that pay period; the Board never warned teachers they would forfeit pay for all time.

The Board violated Section 26-1 of our contract when it denied this member’s personal business request. The teacher missed $253.41 in pay for that June 2017 personal business day and the arbitrator awarded that pay as the only necessary remedy.

Health care wins

Our new contract yielded some significant improvements in certain aspects of our Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS) health insurance coverage. Effective January 1, 2020, co-pays for physical therapy sessions have decreased from $45/session to $30/session. Costs for visits with your mental health practitioner have decreased from $45/visit to $25/visit. Physical therapy continues to have a 60 session/year limit on services, but there is no limit specified for mental health services.

BCBS and CPS did not initially update software on this in a timely manner, but this has now been corrected thanks to members who alerted the Union. Any member who has used these services in the first 10 days of the year and has been erroneously charged the $45 amount, is entitled to a refund which will be provided directly by their physician/provider’s office, not through BCBS or CPS. In addition to the reduction in the co-pays for mental health and physical therapy visits, you no longer need to reach your out-of-pocket expense to receive 100 percent coverage for claims for these visits. Once you pay the new co-pay, your claim will be paid at 100 percent.