Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » This just in… Chicago Teachers’ Union now wants changes to reform bill
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This just in… Chicago Teachers’ Union now wants changes to reform bill

Thursday, May 5, 2011

* 5:29 pm - The Chicago Teachers Union is backing out of its agreement to support the school reform bill which passed the Senate last month on a unanimous roll call. From a press release

“Our members have spoken clearly and decisively – they do not like this bill and demand changes to the language inserted during last-minute midnight maneuvers that restricted their collective bargaining rights,” said CTU President Karen Lewis.

CTU’s House of Delegates specifically called for the removal of Section 12(b) which states:

A dispute or impasse over any Section 4.5 subject shall not be resolved through the procedures set forth in this Act, and the Board, mediator, or fact-finder has no jurisdiction over any Section 4.5 subject. The changes made to this subsection (b) by this amendatory Act of the 97th General Assembly are declarative of existing law.

According to CTU attorney Robert Bloch, “The Section 12(b) amendment is a two-sentence atomic bomb that was slipped into the 110-page bill at the last minute. It sabotages union bargaining rights, blocks the Education Labor Board from enforcing the law, halts pending Labor Board trials, and allows Chicago Public Schools to tear up labor contracts it made on school issues found in Section 4.5 which pertain only to Chicago, such as class size, class schedules, pupil assessment policies and now the `length of the work and school day and length of the work and school year’.”

In addition to 12(b), the CTU House of Delegates called out Section 13(a)(2.10) requiring that 75% of all union members in the bargaining unit vote affirmatively to authorize a strike only in Chicago. According to Lewis, “For the rest of the state, that threshold is 51% of voters, not of members. A strike is the last option. It is a serious move. We’ll take the challenge of 75% versus 51%, but of members who participate in the voting process. Imagine if that was the requirement to win a seat in the State legislature?”

“Bargaining in good faith appears to be a bar set too high for these so-called education reformers – Advance Illinois, Stand for Children, Illinois Business Roundtable and their millionaire funders – who joined forces with the mayor-elect to steer the conversation, and the legislation, away from school improvement to an attack on unions and the children and families they serve. When you rob educators’ ability to bargain for true school improvement – safe schools with smaller class sizes, class offerings and how your school day is structured to meet your students’ needs – the quality of education available to all children is put at risk. CPS is an inequitable system. This bill does not change that basic travesty,” said Lewis.

As subscribers know, the unions didn’t know about a couple items in the bill, but everything else - including the provisions they are complaining about today - was well-known by the CTU when the bill passed.

* From a couple of weeks ago

Stand For Children’s chief, Jonah Edelman, has argued these restrictions are necessary because a strike by CTU could be used to block efforts to increase the length of CPS’s school day, an Emanuel administration priority. Recent statements from CTU President Karen Lewis, however, suggest this may be a non-issue — or at least one that can be bargained over the way employers and organized employees do when a contract is up. Lewis told the Tribune editorial board that “she is ‘very open’ to a longer day and year ‘if we’re talking about bringing a rich curriculum back to the public schools. We want art, music, PE, history, science, everything.’”


In a letter to CTU members, Lewis portrayed the deal as a victory over billionaire-backed education “reform” forces that initially pushed legislation which would have gutted tenure and effectively banned teacher strikes. “We successfully made the case that the right to strike, seniority, due process and a solid evaluation system all play an integral role to make possible the promise of democracy, equity and quality in public education,” she wrote to explain why she personally gave the CTU’s endorsement to the legislation. The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and Illinois Education Association (IEA) also backed the legislation, known as SB 7.

* This could be why President Lewis is backing off now

Although union leaders and school reformers made their deal late on the night of April 12, Lewis failed to inform delegates of that fact the following day when she addressed the regular monthly meeting of that body via Skype. Other CTU elected officers and members only learned of SB 7 a few hours later when Sen. Lightford entered it into the legislative record. Lewis’ first public statement on the bill came via a CTU press release the following morning.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Gregor - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 5:54 pm:

    Can Qunn fix those in an AV?

  2. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 7:43 pm:

    –“Our members have spoken clearly and decisively – they do not like this bill and demand changes to the language inserted during last-minute midnight maneuvers that restricted their collective bargaining rights,” said CTU President Karen Lewis.–

    Train’s left the station. The fact that you missed it doesn’t matter.

    A lot of people stuck their necks out here, and I doubt there’s a whole lot of sympathy to walking it back for the benefit of those who weren’t paying attention.

  3. - railrat - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 8:03 pm:

    its just beyond sad that “a deal ain’t a deal” anymore!! handshakes a thing of the past

  4. - Responsa - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 8:19 pm:

    I can think of a coupla bills I’d like to see a re-do on, too, but it’s probably not going to happen. LOL

  5. - LittleLebowski - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 8:20 pm:

    All you have in Springfield is your word. There won’t be a lot of sympathy for Karen Lewis. That quote from the attorney is incendiary.

  6. - walkinfool - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 8:25 pm:

    It appears that the lead negotiators got far out in front of their own organization in making a deal. They cannot now say, “we really didn’t mean it” to the other parties. Like Rich said, these ideas were at least on the table for discussion for months prior to the final language. It always irks me when people complain about “last minute changes forced thru the legislative process” when most parties at the table knew about them well in advance.

  7. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 8:45 pm:

    It’s for the kids! (sniff, sniff, crocodile tears)

  8. - Phocion - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 9:44 pm:

    This stunt will only strengthen Rahm’s hand. Why didn’t the union challenge his residency while they were at it. Rich, this is why guys like Walker get elected.

  9. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 10:38 pm:

    ==It appears that the lead negotiators got far out in front of their own organization in making a deal.==

    Or, that the leaders aren’t really willing to lead. If you negotiate a legislative deal, you need to stand behind it and bring your people on board. Perhaps, Ms. Lewis’ lack of experience is showing. She was able to lead a revolution, but now she has to lead an organization.

    This change in position will fuel the public’s perception that the CTU is out of control and needs to be reigned in. And, now that they are pulling their support from a bill that is likely to pass, the CTU may end up with amendments regarding ==a city having a population in excess
    of 500,000 and an exclusive representative of its employees== that they really don’t like.

  10. - It ain't over til it's over - Thursday, May 5, 11 @ 11:41 pm:

    There just ain’t no perfect bill guys. In the lead negotiators haste to ram through these proposals with the clock ticking and Madigan dropping a couple of bills in the hopper to do “education reform” I guess they just forgot a couple of un dotted “i”s and a few uncrossed “t”s

  11. - ramming it through - Friday, May 6, 11 @ 7:20 am:

    It is the case that there was a part of this bill that was slipped in without consultation with the unions or the state board. This exposes the fact that the negotiations were not really about education reform and more about teacher bashing. Lewis is right to raise the alarm and protect her members from these dirty tricks.

  12. - Revenue - Friday, May 6, 11 @ 7:28 am:

    The excerpt above from ‘a couple weeks ago’ in no way shows the ctu knew about the provisions their lawyer cites. I don’t know if they did or not, but if they didn’t, blame is being wrongly placed, and should be placed on the other aide of the table.

  13. - Downstate Illinois - Friday, May 6, 11 @ 8:08 am:

    I never considered this bill actual education reform since the unions supported it. Now I’ll have to reconsider my position.

  14. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, May 6, 11 @ 8:17 am:

    This legislation was always in jeopardy.

    It appears to me that someone on the other side has been working the House, Senate Republicans and the Tribune editorial board to push the union concessions beyond what the union had already agreed to.

    I do atleast give the “reform” camp credit for discrediting the bill with out leaving as many finger prints.

    CTU and Stand aside, there’s absolutely nothing in this bill that I’ve read that actually improves the quality of education in Chicago or anywhere else in the state.

    Yes, there was some movement toward a longer school day and school year, but without the means to pay for it, and CPS already has an $800 million budget deficit with more state cuts on the way.

  15. - Fed up - Friday, May 6, 11 @ 8:57 am:


    “all you have in Springfield is your word” unless your the Gov. Whom I now assume will flip flop on this bill.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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