Any attack on the right to a retirement with dignity is wrong – whether it’s at a school like ChiArts, which is training the next generation of artists or a world class institution like the CSO, where our students aspire to perform one day, says CTU.
CHICAGO, March 11, 2019—Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement today in wake of news that the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has begun a strike to improve their working conditions and prevent management from eliminating their retirement security.
“The Chicago Teachers Union is proud to stand in solidarity with Chicago Symphony musicians, who are striking for fair compensation and retirement security. The critical issue between the CSO Board of Trustees and the musicians is management’s scheme to swap musicians’ pensions from a defined benefit plan, with guaranteed retirement benefits, to a defined contribution plan, which is simply a savings plan with no guaranteed benefit. This is another existential management assault on what should be a fundamental right for every worker—a pension that allows workers a secure retirement with dignity.”
“Jim Mabie, a “life trustee” on the CSO board, is also a founding member of the board at The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts), which is refusing to provide pensions to CTU teachers at ChiArts—even though Chicago Public Schools gives ChiArts the same amount of dollars per student that every other public school receives. This includes funds that should be covering our members’ pensions—but that ChiArts ‘supporters’ like Mr. Mabie refuse to fund.
“CTU members at ChiArts have been negotiating for a first labor contract for 10 months. These committed educators are mulling a strike because ChiArts management refuses to adequately resource classrooms and fairly compensate teachers, whose current base salaries are 35% less on average than they would be at Clemente High School just down the street—and 54% less than in CPS schools when retirement and pension contributions are factored in.
“That’s wrong, just as any attack the right to decent working conditions and a retirement with dignity is wrong – whether it’s at a school like ChiArts, which is training the next generation of our city’s artists. or a world class institution like the CSO, where many of our students aspire to perform one day.
“Management’s indifference to preserving and protecting a truly world class gem in the city of Chicago at the same time that their board is loaded with some of the city’s and nation’s most wealthy elites threatens the preservation of a cultural gem and support for essential cultural work. The Chicago Teachers Union supports the CSO musicians’ fight for a fair contract and applauds them for demanding that management contribute fairly to the sustainability of one of Chicago’s most prized civic institutions.”