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*** UPDATED x1 - Emanuel responds *** CTU: Talks are broken off

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

* As if things aren’t already crazy enough right now

With their contract expiring Tuesday, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis is saying talks have now broken off with Chicago Public Schools and that CPS’ “bargaining rhetoric is as empty as their bank accounts.”

Lewis said at a news conference Thursday that CPS is threatening to slash 3,000 jobs as part of $200 million in cuts.

“CPS refuses to budge on our contract proposals that will have no cost impact on the district,” Lewis said.

Lewis said teachers didn’t ask for a raise but couldn’t give on non-economic issues, including how teachers are evaluated.

*** UPDATE *** From Mayor Emanuel…

“We are encouraged that both sides finally acknowledge that CPS is in a fiscal crisis and lacks the resources to provide additional compensation, and that is a step in the right direction. We urge CTU leadership to come back to the bargaining table. After years of our academic gains, now is not the time to shortchange our children by eliminating evaluations for tens of thousands of employees or lowering teachers’ performance standards.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 3:46 pm:

    Lewis said that very specific thing…

    ===…teachers didn’t ask for a raise but couldn’t give on non-economic issues, including how teachers are evaluated.===

    Maybe Bruce and Rahm should, take a break, get away from it all, head to a ranch, have some wine, talk about how is all went south so quickly…

  2. - Tone - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 3:48 pm:

    CTUs demands hurt the very people they claim to “care” about. 85% of CPS students are low income and 90% are minority.

    Who doesn’t get evaluated on the job? CTU needs to be broken.

  3. - better days - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 3:51 pm:

    Chicago Teachers have had a 45 %pay increase in last 13 years .. they only pay 2% towards their $70,000 yearly pensions ….

  4. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 3:51 pm:

    … On Chicago Tonight last night.


  5. - Joe M - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 3:53 pm:

    Tone, Read! - she wasn’t talking about teachers not being evaluated - but instead “including HOW teachers are evaluated”.

  6. - Demoralized - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 3:53 pm:

    ==Who doesn’t get evaluated on the job? ==

    I’m pretty sure I never read anywhere that they were proposing that they didn’t get evaluated. The issue is “how” and not “if.”

    If you are going to argue know what you are arguing.

  7. - walker - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 3:56 pm:

    ==Who doesn’t get evaluated on the job? CTU needs to be broken.==

    Well, it’s clear where you stand overall. LOL

    FYI teachers currently do get evaluated on the job. The argument is over methods and metrics.

  8. - Demoralized - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 4:00 pm:

    ==CTUs demands hurt the very people they claim to “care” about==

    By the way, do you even have the slightest clue what their “demands” are?

  9. - LizPhairTax - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 4:07 pm:

    Seems reasonable and responsible, in light of the fiscal realities, to say we’ll forgo a pay raise but we want better working conditions.

    Crises create leverage both ways.

  10. - Stones - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 4:08 pm:

    I was pretty surprised about a week ago when Karen Lewis characterized negotiations as “close”. This would seem to run contrary to talks in recent years between the CTU and CPS. Now it seems that the train has fallen completely off the rails. Wouldn’t be surprised to see another strike before the school year starts.

  11. - Wensicia - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 4:13 pm:

    They probably want to tie PARCC testing scores to teacher evaluations. PARCC is a disaster; it’s not based on the curriculum currently in use.

  12. - Buzzie - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 4:18 pm:

    Rahm’s single largest mistake—–believing he could take down the CTU. Just think where he might be right now if he chose collaboration rather than confrontation. And Rauner continues to walk down that same path. Nothing dooms polticans more than allowing their egos to replace common sense.

  13. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 4:18 pm:

    I think if Karen Lewis said “porpoise” Tone would repond “CTU must be broken.”

    Kind of his thing.

  14. - Pete - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 4:21 pm:

    Isn’t teacher evaluation defined by law?

  15. - chiagr - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 4:23 pm:

    Teachers do get frequent evaluations on the job. She was referring to how they take place. Teacher’s total contribution from their negotiated pay package is 9% to pensions not 2%. In the 80’s CTU took a deal where the Chicago board of ed picked up 7% of their pension payment in lieu of dollars on the check. A lot of misinformation out there.

  16. - Norseman - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 4:33 pm:

    Where is Tone reporting from this week?

  17. - dzipio - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 4:39 pm:

    The CPS should realize if they want Lewis and the CTU to take a 0% raise they had better be flexible on everything else, but nope.

  18. - A guy - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 4:41 pm:

    ==I was pretty surprised about a week ago when Karen Lewis characterized negotiations as “close”.===

    Actually I read this 2 days ago. To say they would NOT negotiate on these items make me wonder how they were ever really “close”. Something odd going on here.

  19. - Rod - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 4:41 pm:

    The CTU legally can not bargain or strike over layoffs unless CPS agrees to open that area for bargaining pursuant to 115 ILCS 5/4.5 (a) (3), it was part of the SB 7 bill (Public Act 097-0008) several years ago. CPS should not be discussing what if issues relating to layoffs with the union.

    CPS should make a deal that is reasonable, advise CTU of the layoffs related to that deal and proceed with the layoffs. That is why the law was changed, CPS under this act has “sole discretion” relating to layoffs its not an issue to be debated.

  20. - olddog - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 4:44 pm:

    Teacher evaluations are a contentious issue nationwide. All too often they’re based on standardized test scores and “value added” statistical modeling that in fact do not reflect the effectiveness of individual teachers — and neighborhood schools. So if they’re an apparent deal-breaker in Chicago, it comes as no surprise.

    Good primer last year in the Washington Post:

  21. - Tone deaf - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 4:58 pm:

    Starting salary for a teacher with a masters degree at CPS is roughly $54000. Teachers I know spend 50-60 hours a week at least, including grading and class instruction and meetings. And they spend hundreds or a few thousand on school supplies (eg copier paper, bookshelves, pencils), most out of their post-tax pockets. And no social security. And they are evaluated based on the performance of their kids as a certain percentage who are expected to be above the state average, taking NO consideration for the special needs, Potential ESL, family support or overall abilities of the child. Teachers should be lauded, not demonized. And more people should realize the thankless job they perform.

  22. - Buddy - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 5:02 pm:


    Parents should have a choice.

  23. - gg - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 5:02 pm:

    My wife is a CTU teacher.

    The principals have no problem getting rid of teachers they do not want.

    Every year at least one of the higher paid/older teachers is let go.

    There are 34 teachers at her school.

  24. - Buddy - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 5:03 pm:

    Tone Deaf.

    They don’t need soc sec. They receive a nice pension.

  25. - JS Mill - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 5:17 pm:

    @Wensicia= PARCC cannot be used for teacher evaluation.

    =most out of their post-tax pockets=

    Although, it may be tax deductible. Doesn’t cover everything but it is a little consideration. Still, very true most teachers especially K-8 teachers send out of their own pockets for students supplies, office supplies, you name it. Because they genuinely care.

  26. - Anon2U - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 5:20 pm:

    Anybody ever done a spreadsheet on how much all of the mess that we are in would cost? Chicago, CPS, fully fund education, pensions, fully fund Madigans now vetoed budget, etc? I mean, how high are taxes gonna have to be to keep up with the decades of democratic leadership?
    I know OW, governors own so Thompson, Edgar, Ryan are your scapegoats, but Daily(s), Madigan, Rahm, Walker, Blago and Quinn take most of the blame. Can’t have one party rule and push the blame to others. Dem’s OWN THIS MESS.

  27. - nixit71 - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 5:22 pm:

    “Teachers didn’t ask for a raise” is code for “teachers assume city will continue to pick-up 7% of their pension.”

  28. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 5:25 pm:


    The Chicago school system belongs to Mayors of Chicago.

    They appoint the board, the superintendent, it’s up to the Mayor, which is why Rahm is SO involved, own this part of their administration.

    - Anon2U -, no one making you a victim. You can always choose to look at what’s going on and assess it for yourself.

    Its not one party rule, you’d be surprised how both parties weave in the false narrative you cling to.

  29. - A Citizen - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 5:26 pm:

    I guess money isnt everything.

  30. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 6:04 pm:

    Rahm comes up short again. Another one tomorrow and he has a hat trick.

  31. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 6:09 pm:

    ==I mean, how high are taxes gonna have to be to keep up with the decades of democratic leadership?==

    Chicagoans are facing possible city, county and state tax increases, as their property taxes are being reassessed in 2015. Maybe you should ask them next year?

  32. - Sue - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 6:12 pm:

    It’s not apples to apples but employees pay their half of SS. Most taxpayers don’t understand that CPS picks up most of the employees share of the pensions. The claim that this was in exchange for some past raises isn’t relevant given the fiscal condition of CPS. Since the S.Ct won’t let either the State or CPS reform the pension systems for existing participants- the effort to shift the contribution cost onto the participant is fair game. If CTU was rational they would agree to a split but the chances of that are slim..

  33. - JS Mill - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 6:18 pm:

    = in exchange for some past raises isn’t relevant =

    Lol. I am sure that line of reasoning, or lack there of will be believed by absolutely no one at the bargaining table.

  34. - Sue - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 6:28 pm:

    To JS-so what is better-pay the full cost of pensions with the employer pick-up or layoff lots of teachers and cut programs which harms the classroom. When there is no money–there is going to be painful choices. I would prefer that the damage not hit the classroom but you would prefer to keep the pick-up. Wouldn’t be a teacher by any chance?

  35. - JS Mill - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 6:35 pm:

    Sue- No, I am not a teacher by chance.

    I didn’t make any of the assertions that you apparently divined from my comment.

    My point about your comment was that it was fantasy land when it comes to negotiations.

    I have negotiated several times from the management side of things, your comments demonstrate a total lack of understanding as to what is like to sit at he bargaining table.

    I was able to achieve several very challenging concessions from the teacher’s bargaining team.

    First- there is money. Literally. So stop with that.

    Second- Money is limited.

    Third- choices will be made. The teachers chose to have CTU bargain for them so they will have to accept the outcome. Good or bad.

  36. - Angry Chicagoan - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 6:36 pm:

    ===…teachers didn’t ask for a raise but couldn’t give on non-economic issues, including how teachers are evaluated.===

    I’m not surprised. The problem with CPS is that it’s an exercise in opposites of what taxpayers and kids need, highish teacher salaries and modest hours in return for terrible benefits, workplace conditions, evaluation procedures and management. For example, if you want to see something truly frightening, inquire about how small their list of in-network mental health providers is. Inquire about how much (or more accurately how little) administrators back them up. This is why they’re steamed. And it’s a terrible deal for the Chicago public when the city decides it’s easier to buy silence than solve problems.

  37. - JS Mill - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 6:42 pm:


    I have had Board members that had the same attitude as you. “nobody paid by the taxpayers deserves anything/take it or leave it”.

    That is the exact reason bargaining goes south and kids always pay for it.

  38. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 6:51 pm:

    ===After years of our academic gains, now is not the time to shortchange our children by eliminating evaluations for tens of thousands of employees or lowering teachers’ performance standards.”===

    Not. A. Good. Sign.

  39. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 7:04 pm:

    Sue-are you Mrs. Arizona Bob by chance?

  40. - AnonymousOne - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 7:07 pm:

    I’m pleased to see in print the mayor’s words “after years of our academic gains”. To hear anyone say anything the least bit positive about schools and teachers is headline news. I had to reread that part several times.Teachers should be rewarded for those academic gains, not punished. If they can be held accountable for student failure, surely they should be held accountable for student success, correct? Problem is they never seem to get credit for the success part.

  41. - JS Mill - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 8:02 pm:

    @AA- Too funny!

    =Problem is they never seem to get credit for the success part=

    It has to come locally, you certainly won’t see it nationally, just not part of the current rhetoric. I think Rahm gave it a little nod, could be more especially during negotiations. Sad, teachers are doing amazing things these days. Numbers don’t always show what they are doing, but I see it all of the time.

  42. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 8:08 pm:

    Sue, it’s also not “apples to apples” to compare any DB pension plan to SS. SS is income redistribution in favor of lower income beneficiaries and is at its heart a tax. DB plans are trusts created by law for the exclusive benefit of their members, not their plan sponsors.

    CTU can and should tell Rahm to pound sand on the pension pickup. He’s got money to wizz away on sports arenas and TIFs, he’s got it to pay teachers.

  43. - The Walrus - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 8:58 pm:

    @ Word, What would be the porpoise of doing that?

  44. - AnonymousOne - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 8:59 pm:

    Travelling in Chicago the other day with a guest from downstate, he was shocked to see so much construction going on. Everywhere you look, there is new building, cranes galore….a hub of creative activity. He was so puzzled about what he reads in the Trib and others about financial devastation, the new Detroit, bankruptcy. A real schizophrenic dialogue… money flows freely for some things. Other things that we supposedly all value, not so much. Anyone who believes what the Tribbies say about financial ruin needs to take a trip into the city and ask how such development could translate into starvation for some industries. Clearly priorities come into play.

  45. - Sue - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 10:39 pm:

    AA-what is it you don’t understand. All I am saying is that employees pay their share of SS without having an employer pickup. Teachers are not in SS but why should employers pay the employee share of either the CPS or TRS pension cost

  46. - Lynn S, - Thursday, Jun 25, 15 @ 11:15 pm:

    @ Sue:

    Many, many years ago (possibly even decades ago), teachers unions decided that they would forego pay raises in that particular set of contract negotiations. The catch? The districts receiving this “benefit” had to start paying a portion of the teacher’s contribution to their pension, in addition to the amount the district was paying as the employer of these teachers.

    Teachers unions have the distinct viewpoint that anything negotiated into a contract will never, ever, ever leave that contract. That’s why so many districts now pay a portion of their teacher’s contributions to the teacher’s pension fund, in addition to what the district pays as employer of said teachers. The unions are determined to keep this benefit, no matter what it costs the districts.

    And if you doubt me about their intransigence on negotiated items, read your local school district’s contract with its teacher’s union. Does the contract require the district to have blackboards in every room? If yes, visit your local schools and see how many rooms only have smart boards now (no blackboards at all in newly constructed schools).

  47. - foster brooks - Friday, Jun 26, 15 @ 6:37 am:

    tif districts are bankrupting cps

  48. - CapnCrunch - Friday, Jun 26, 15 @ 7:01 am:

    ” All I am saying is that employees pay their share of SS without having an employer pickup.”

    It is actually worse than you say, -Sue-. Employees are actually paying all of the cost of SS. The employer’s share of SS tax could be paid to the employee and the employer would see no difference in costs. Regardless of who actually sends the payment to the Feds, all of the tax is born by the employee.

  49. - Politix - Friday, Jun 26, 15 @ 8:32 am:

    Rahm is terrified. What would Chicago do without Karen Lewis? She is unstoppable. I’d like to see a Madigan-Lewis match-up.

  50. - nixit71 - Friday, Jun 26, 15 @ 10:08 am:

    @Lynn S - You hit the nail on the head. I actually researched the origin of the pension pick-up:

    The pension pick-up originated in 1981 IN LIEU OF a yearly raise. Unfortunately, pretty much every contract after that one has included yearly raises ON TOP OF the pension pick up. For example, the CTU contract from 1990-93 included a 20% raise over 3 years plus the pension pick-up. Was the pick-up still necessary given the size of the raises? Probably not. Was it easier to offer 6% yearly raises and hide the pick-up under the covers so no one knew the true total cost? You bet.

    Time for CTU to give up the 7% pension pick-up. It lacks transparency and hides the true costs of teacher compensation to the taxpayers. It has evolved from what should have been a one-time compensation benefit into a yearly entitlement. Each CTU contract explicitly states “This pension pick-up will not constitute a continuing ele­ment of compensation or benefit beyond the current contract.” This is not an entitlement.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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