After fighting on picket lines for 11 days—six of them unpaid—we still had to fight Chicago Public Schools for wages and benefits already earned. Here is where we stand as we enter Winter Break.
What we have
- CPS will pay retroactive pay back to July 1, 2019, on Feb. 28, 2020. This will include 3 percent general raises and increases for eligible PSRP members, as well as hourly rates for non-instructional, instructional, substitute and coaching positions. About 200 members in accreted positions will not receive their retroactive pay until March, as CPS is still working on updates to pay tables. We will continue to press the district on this and will communicate when we have more details about the timing of retroactive pay for these members.
- We forced CPS during contract negotiations to reverse the 0.8 percent increase in PPO health plan premiums. This reduced rate will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. CPS will issue back pay to July 1, 2019, per the new contract for members who paid the increased rate, but at this point, CPS is working on retroactive salary pay first. The district says it will issue the PPO premium back pay soon thereafter.
- For PSRPs entitled to new education pay lanes, and clinicians entitled to the new national credential stipends: CPS will email members in early January about the process to ensure your educational attainment and credentials are submitted properly (by a January deadline) so that those who comply receive their appropriate changes in February. Use Winter Break to pull together evidence of any degrees or credentials that CPS may not already have on file.
- CPS reiterated that it is committed to allowing 52-week employees to make up five strike days. The district is currently trying to navigate a pension rule issue and agreed to continue to meet with the Union to work on this.
- The Union demanded a reduction in co-pays for mental health and therapy visits, and CPS agreed to reduce the cost from $30 to $15. CPS made a mistake and says it did not realize that Blue Cross Blue Shield has a minimum $20 co-pay for all visits, so thus far, CPS has agreed to set up a reimbursement process for the $5 overages. We are still in discussions with the district about its error.
What we are still fighting for
In regards to other issues like veteran pay, Chicago Public Schools is illegally reneging on our deal.
At a meeting with Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Oct. 30, CPS agreed to add an additional $25 million to the veteran teacher salary schedule over the five-year contract, increasing the base pay for CPS teachers with 15 or more years of teaching.
Until this agreement was achieved, CPS paid little or no additional salary to its most skilled and seasoned teachers, even though all teachers with less than 15 years of service receive base salary increases every year. CPS repeatedly said it couldn’t care less about paying its most capable teachers more for their hard-earned expertise, despite the fact that our veteran teachers have devoted their entire careers to teaching CPS students.
Our 11-day strike forced CPS to recognize the contributions of its veteran teachers, and make countless other improvements in an historic contract for CPS students and staff. As soon as CTU members voted to ratify the agreement, however, the district broke our deal and demanded that most of the $25 million be paid in one-time lump sum bonuses rather than added to veteran teachers’ base salaries.
The CTU has always pursued raises in the form of increases to base pay. This adds value over time as educators progress through their careers. One-time bonuses do not, and now the district is trying to provide these monies in exactly that way.
We will eventually collect the money that is owed to our veterans. Even the district agrees that it will pay the $25 million, but the dispute over the manner in which it is paid is important for future negotiations. The mayor and CPS representatives at the bargaining table made the commitment to increase the base pay for veteran teachers, and the details matter.
The Chicago Teachers Union stands with our veteran teachers and we will get them the benefit of our bargain. The Union will be filing unfair labor practice charges at the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board to compel CPS to stop its retaliatory tactics against veteran teachers by denying them the salaries they deserve.
What you can do
It is up to educators to stay vigilant, coordinate with CTU staff and stand up for your rights. You can take this fight directly to the mayor’s unelected Board of Ed today using our Action Page below. We also urge all members join us on Jan. 18 at the Delegates and School Leaders Training to learn how to sharpen your tools for expertise and advocacy. United, we can defend our rights, because when we fight, we win!Take it to the Board!