This week, we reached an agreement with Chicago Public Schools on the issue of principals asking PSRPs to come into school buildings to perform various end-of-year tasks. The agreement has four parts:

  • The first part is that all assignments that involve PSRPs going into school buildings must be voluntary. In other words, no principal can require a PSRP to come into school against their wishes.
  • The second part is that paras who do volunteer to do this work will be paid time and a half hazard pay.
  • The third part is that CPS has to take appropriate safety measures, and the plan for those have to be shared with CTU in advance of the assignments being offered to members.
  • And finally, CPS has to send a written communication to all principals explaining these are the only conditions on which folks can be coming into school buildings.

The full text of the agreement from CPS is below, along with the communication to principals and safety plan referenced in the agreement, which we confirmed with CPS last night.

We have heard from several schools that are interested in having Clerks and Business Managers report to work in-person for the last few days of the school year to support end of year close-out. Through June 22, 2020, Clerks and Business managers may report to work in-person on an opt-in, voluntary basis. Staff who agree to report in-person during this period will receive 50% premium pay in addition to their regular salary for hours worked on site. Staff reporting time must be kept to a minimum, and all staff members must swipe in and follow CPS COVID safety protocols, including adhering to social distancing and wear face-coverings or masks during their time at school buildings.

How to handle end of the year work that involves PSRPs coming in to buildings: all such assignments (1) must be voluntary, (2) must be paid time and a half hazard pay, and (3) must include appropriate safety provisions that are shared with CTU in advance of the assignments being offered to employees; and (4) there must be written communication from CPS central office to all CPS administrators explicating 1-3.

New COVID-19 legislation makes PSRPs eligible for unemployment benefits for Summer 2020

On June 5, Governor Pritzker signed into law legislation which allows non-instructional and non-administrative employees of schools, colleges, and universities to qualify for unemployment this summer. This means that many IFT PSRPs who work as custodians, teacher aides, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, clerical workers, and in other non-teaching positions can receive unemployment during the summer months if they are not working or are unable to find a job.

This is a change from the prior law, which did not allow employees with regular nine or 10 month non-instructional positions to qualify for unemployment over the summer if the employee had not been laid off from their job and if the employee had “a reasonable expectation of continued employment” in the fall.

The IFT and our labor union community strongly supported this legislation in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. It will remain in effect through 2020.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) manages unemployment benefits. They have created two fact sheets to help you understand this new, temporary benefit.

Who qualifies?  
PSRP members who are non-instructional and non-administrative who do not work at their school, college, or university over the summer.

When is this benefit available?  
March 15, 2020 through January 2, 2021

What if I receive deferred pay over the summer?  
If you receive “summer paychecks” because your employer spreads out your pay for work you completed during the school year, you still qualify for unemployment under this law. If you are receiving wages over a 12-month period but do not perform your job duties during the summer months or vacation breaks, you are not considered to have “worked” during those times, even if you may be receiving a paycheck.

To apply, go to the IDES website to begin you application if you believe you qualify.

Non-instructional employees should file their claims under the regular unemployment application. These workers should not qualify for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). PUA is only available for workers who do not qualify for regular unemployment. Workers who qualify for PUA are 1099/independent contractor, self-employed workers who do not have a W2. Technically, you must be denied regular unemployment benefits before you can qualify for PUA. Non-instructional employees should qualify for regular unemployment. Workers who qualify for regular unemployment & PUA will receive an additional $600 per week under Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). FPUC ends on July 31, 2020.

Non-instructional employees who work for Chicago Public Schools and receive their last check on Mon. June 15 and work until Fri. June 19 should file for unemployment the following week. These workers can file as early as Mon. June 22. The week of June 22 is the first week they are experiencing unemployment. An unemployment insurance claim is effective the week the worker files for unemployment.