Board of Ed’s insistence on raising health care premiums forces the Union to reopen health care portions of the 2015-2019 Agreement.

CHICAGO, Dec. 18, 2018—The Chicago Teachers Union today notified the Chicago Board of Education of its intent to reopen the 2015-2019 labor contract to renegotiate the health plan. This notice is necessary due to Chicago Public Schools’ plans to raise health care premiums by 0.8 percent in January 2019, and its refusal to acknowledge savings achieved by the Labor Management Cooperation Committee (LMCC)—a joint CTU-Board of Education effort—to reduce health care costs.

The refusal comes despite CPS’ acknowledgement yesterday that, while health care costs increased from 2017 to 2018, they nevertheless remain lower overall than in 2016.

The district is now attempting to minimize and ignore the savings identified by the LMCC to levy increased premiums against CTU members. This is a violation of its Agreement with the Union, under which the Union has the right to reopen the labor contract for renegotiation.

“Leave it to Rahm to try and stick it to us one last time, and right before Christmas, no less,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said. “Our teachers, PSRPs, clinicians and support staff are nickel and dimed at every turn, whether it’s inside their classrooms by spending out of pocket trying to fill gaps left by the mayor shortchanging their students, or in their communities with speed traps, red light cameras and city stickers.

“He’s now going to raise health care premiums at a time when many of our members’ are overworked, ready for a well-deserved break and incurring additional expenses during the holiday season,” Sharkey added. “It’s this type of kicking-us-when-we’re-down bullying that’s become a hallmark of the fifth floor of City Hall.”

Today’s action by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked Board of Ed is reminiscent of the attack he launched in 2011, when he axed a 4 percent pay raise for teachers in a district where the workforce is overwhelmingly women and Black and Brown educators—people who provide vital care for children living in communities Chicago has long neglected.

At the time, the mayor alleged that students “got the shaft,” then subsequently gave those same students, their families and their school communities the shaft for the next seven-plus years with a record number of school closings, millions of dollars in budget cuts, endless scandals and corruption among his appointed CEOs and charter allies, and more than 9,000 layoffs of teachers, paraprofessionals and education support staff.

“The mayor is reprising his role as the Grinch, and trying to steal holiday joy from the people who provide the joy of learning for our students every day,” Sharkey said. “The difference here is that the real Grinch eventually reversed course on his cruel and hardhearted ways, but after two terms, we’re still waiting on that from Rahm.”

The Union is demanding immediate reopener negotiations in response to this violation, and also remains fully committed to fighting for health care improvements and savings in its upcoming contract.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information please visit the CTU website at www.ctunet.com.