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Illinois Education Labor Relations Board votes 5-0 to seek injunction blocking unlawful implementation of ‘longer school day’

Today, the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board (IELRB) struck a blow against union-busting and employee coercion and intimidation by unanimously voting to seek injunctive relief against the Chicago Board of Education’s (CBE) illegal push for a longer school day.  Members of the labor board voted 5-0 to seek an injunction blocking the program from taking effect this year.  If granted, nine schools that have currently extended their school day will revert to their previous schedule as outlined in the CTU contract and no other elementary school can amend its school hours.

Click here  to download the one-hour audio recording of the Oct. 20, 2011 hearing held by the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board.  The recording begins with oral arguments presented by Chicago Teachers Union’s attorney Robert Bloch.

CTU Attorney Robert Bloch’s written statement can be downloaded here.

The IELRB is the state agency administering the Illinois Education Labor Relations Act, which establishes the right of educational employees to organize and bargain collectively. The IELRB ruling now goes to the Illinois attorney general’s office which will petition a circuit court judge for injunction.

“This is a victory for labor and a victory for the law,” said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “CPS’ scheme to get schools to convert to a longer school day this year is illegal and today the IELRB found the CBE will irreparably injure labor relations unless it is stopped from implementing its scheme. Today’s ruling says the CBE cannot break the law no matter what its intentions are.

“We have repeatedly asked them to settle this case; to sit down and discuss this process; and to help us plan for a longer, better school day next year when this program goes system wide for the 2012/2013 school year,” she continued. “Instead they engaged in illegal, immoral behavior that threatened the future of collective bargaining and of our union. I commend the teachers and school employees who took a stand against this behavior.  Today, organized labor won.”

The victory comes weeks after CTU officials alleged CPS illegally cast waiver votes in 13 elementary schools by inducing support for a longer school day and threatening and coercing teachers to vote in favor of the proposal in order to receive a mere one-time stipend up to $1,250 instead of about $6,200 on average salary they would have received throughout the school year had CPS honored their labor contract.

Attorney Robert Bloch, arguing on behalf of the Union told the Board: “By threatening and inducing teachers to supplant their labor contract with a new school day and new compensation terms, CBE sought to make the CTU irrelevant as the teachers’ collective bargaining representative.

“And the CBE has made clear that it intends to keep at it, to ride roughshod over the labor contract and collective bargaining rights at every elementary school in the city, and unless the IELRB seeks injunctive relief, it might succeed before a final determination is made on the merits of the complaint,” he said.

Refuting claims that CTU’s unfair labor practice complaint somehow harms Chicago Public School (CPS) students who need a longer school day, Lewis said, “What harms our students is 160 schools without libraries; hundreds of schools without air conditioning or heating ventilation; a scaled down curriculum that mandates rampant standardized testing and rote learning; and, a school board that fires its most experienced teachers and disrupts their current school year with a political campaign rather than an a education plan.”