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Could a CTU strike be averted?

Friday, Jan 29, 2016

* From CTU President Karen Lewis

After a period of intense and difficult bargaining, the Chicago Teachers Union has received a serious offer from CPS. The CTU requires that any Tentative Agreements be made by its Big Bargaining Team—a 40-member committee of teachers, PSRPs and clinicians—which will convene, deliberate and vote on Monday.

While the Union will not release details of the offer without Big Bargaining Team approval, the basic framework calls for economic concessions in exchange for enforceable protections of education quality and job security. If the Union is able to reach a Tentative Agreement, delegates will be apprised of details shortly.

* CPS responds

As the CTU leadership said, CPS has put a serious offer on the table that would prevent midyear teacher layoffs. This offer is a true compromise that requires sacrifices from both sides so that we can protect what is most important: the gains our students are making in their classrooms. We will continue to work around the clock to reach consensus on an agreement that is the best interests of our students, educators and parents.

* Hizzoner

Speaking on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” on Thursday, Mayor Emanuel declined to talk about the specifics of the offer, but he called the talks “honest.”

“I think it’s better for me to characterize it as very good discussion with a lot of respect on both sides for the challenges. . . . But to try to create a win-win situation for both teachers, taxpayers and most importantly for our students, I don’t want to go farther than that in trying to characterize it. Because it’s been a very honest and I think healthy working relationship over a number of weeks to get to a place where I think that we would see what the teachers need to see and the type of protections, but also the type of things that are necessary for taxpayers and students to see. I think that kind of mutual respect, I want to maintain.”

* Context from the Tribune

Any deal would have to be approved by the union’s House of Delegates before a contract could be finalized. That body meets Wednesday.

The union’s announcement came a day after CPS put off an offer to borrow up to $875 million. District CEO Forrest Claypool said earlier Thursday that the district expects to complete the deal by early next week at the latest.

In recent days, negotiators on both sides of the table have said that talks have gained steam following Republican proposals that would allow the state to take over the cash-strapped district, and also allow the district to declare bankruptcy. […]

Last week, Lewis voiced optimism about the progress of contract negotiations and acknowledged that her members could be in line to “lose certain things.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

48 Comments
  1. - Junior - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 8:48 am:

    So, the plan is to borrow another $800M+. Cool. Problem solved…..


  2. - Ducky LaMoore - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 8:49 am:

    ===In recent days, negotiators on both sides of the table have said that talks have gained steam following Republican proposals that would allow the state to take over the cash-strapped district, and also allow the district to declare bankruptcy.===

    Crisis creates opportunity.


  3. - Carhartt Representative - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 8:53 am:

    It’s a tough deal. For my wife, she would be making less money in the spring of 2019 than she did in the fall of 2014. Meanwhile, the cost of living isn’t going to stand still and taxes are surely going up. The trade off is that there would be more job security and there are some non-economic terms that are an improvement. I probably would vote to reject it. I don’t know that she will.


  4. - There is power in a union... - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 8:58 am:

    I’m sure Rauner will help CPS get that extra money any day now… /s

    But seriously glad they hammered something out.


  5. - Huh? - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:02 am:

    Dear Governor 1.4%

    See what happens when you bargain in good faith? A contract gets hammered out that is agreeable to both sides. It is tough but doable.

    People of the State if Illinois.


  6. - Junior - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:09 am:

    Huh? Perhaps it is agreeable to CPS and CTU, but is it a good deal for the people of the city? Does borrowing another $800M help the city’s financial future?


  7. - RNUG - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:10 am:

    Reading between the lines of the various statements, it sounds like the CPS teachers will gradually take over paying the employee portion of their pensions in exchange for job security, continuing some step raises, retention of seniority, and some work rule changes. While it will lower the teachers’ net pay, it seems like a reasonable deal for today’s economic conditions. No mention of health insurance in anything I read; if it stays more or less the same, then I would count the contract offer as pretty fair to both sides.


  8. - Forgottonian - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:12 am:

    Could this work as a blueprint for the so-called impasse with afscme? Could there be serious concessions in exchange for job protections?


  9. - @MisterJayEm - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:13 am:

    [fingers crossed]

    – MrJM


  10. - Felix - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:14 am:

    For Lewis, selling the deal to her rank-and-file is trickier than you might think. Many at CPS, including CTU members, often refer to the House of Delegates as the Politburo. As the nickname would imply, they’re a pretty radical group, and they’ve been further radicalized by the diet of anti-Rahm red meat Lewis and Jesse Sharkey have been feeding them. The union leadership is going to have to walk back a lot of that rhetoric now.


  11. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:15 am:

    RNUG, thanks for the take.

    Refreshing to see some sort of optimism on accomplishing something.

    The bar’s been lowered quite a bit in the last year.


  12. - There is power in a union... - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:16 am:

    “Could this work as a blueprint for the so-called impasse with afscme? Could there be serious concessions in exchange for job protections?”

    Rauner doesn’t want us to have job protections. He is demanding we be very easy to privatize and layoff. In my opinion, that is his true goal. I’m not convinced he cares one bit about saving the state money. He wants the state to be easier for his friends to make money off of.


  13. - Wensicia - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:19 am:

    CPS is deep in debt and they can’t expect a state bailout. I think both sides realize they have to make do with what they have now while securing contractual rights and protections.

    Rauner would love a strike. It would play into his campaign message.


  14. - lake county democrat - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:22 am:

    I think CPS and CTU realized if they didn’t cut a deal that the continuing dysfunction would work to Rauner’s benefit and they’d both end up getting less. I keep telling you: suburban *Democrats* are concerned about getting attacked specifically on this issue: that they took money from their constituents’ wallets to bail out CPS. The more incompetent CPS looks and/or the more selfish CTU looks, the more sympathy Rauner would get when he says “the Democrats want me to surrender on the budget to bail out *that* mess?” If CTU makes some significant concessions, it provides a good responsive talking point.

    By the way, such a deal is arguably EXACTLY what voters wanted when they elected Rauner: not gutted unions but *some* pushback and concessions.


  15. - Anony - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:22 am:

    Wensicia - CPS is deep in debt and agreed to a deal that gets them deeper in debt. Sounds like more of the same.


  16. - There is power in a union... - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:25 am:

    “Rauner would love a strike. It would play into his campaign message.”

    Exactly. I wouldn’t be surprised if the governor publicly threw cold water on this deal soon…


  17. - Robert the Bruce - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:26 am:

    ==Could this work as a blueprint for the so-called impasse with afscme? Could there be serious concessions in exchange for job protections?==

    AFSCME & Rauner both seem to be far less reasonable than CTU/Rahm.

    Rauner wants to steal the pensions and completely break the unions, while AFSCME wants two different types of raises and a 37.5 hour work week before overtime kicks in.


  18. - Wensicia - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:29 am:

    @Anony,

    Are massive layoffs and doubling class size the better answer?


  19. - Chicago taxpayer - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:32 am:

    =CPS is deep in debt and agreed to a deal that gets them deeper in debt. Sounds like more of the same.=

    The CPS deficit is $1.1 billion plus. A new teachers contract, no matter how favorable to CPS, will not save $1.1 billion. More borrowing will be needed as CPS digs out. And everybody will have to be part of the solution–CPS, CTU, State of Illinois, City of Chicago. Sounds like the teachers have decided they want to be part of the solution.


  20. - Anony - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:35 am:

    Wensicia - I don’t know the best answer. But borrowing more is what got them in the current fix. Will the deal have fundamental changes that will help CPS be on firm financial footing down the road? If not it is just more kicking the can down the road without fixing the problem.


  21. - sal-says - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:37 am:

    == Could a CTU strike be averted? ==

    I think a better question today is ‘Can the collapse of CPS be averted?

    Unlikely with raunner’s behavior.


  22. - RNUG - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:44 am:

    Yesterday I named 4 things the unions should fight fight for. Let’s look at this deal in those terms.

    Job protection - check

    Workplace safety - unknown but doubt any proposed changes would seriously affect it, so call it a draw

    Health insurance - unknown

    Wages - appears actual wages can go up but take home will definitely go down, probably call it a draw

    So call it one clear win, two kind of ties, and an unknown on the insurance. If the insurance stays more or less the same, that would be a win.

    Others will probably disagree but it may be as good a deal as possible with the fiscal constraints.

    Is it a model for an AFSCME deal? Probably not because there is no pickup of the employee pension payment at the State level, and it is unlikely Rauner would agree to the job protection.


  23. - Carhartt Representative - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:52 am:

    =No mention of health insurance in anything I read; if it stays more or less the same, then I would count the contract offer as pretty fair to both sides.=

    Health insurance would go up, copays would go up, and deductibles would go up.


  24. - Angry Chicagoan - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:53 am:

    @lake county democrat, interesting and useful observation.


  25. - Anony - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:54 am:

    Sal - the collapse of CPS has been a slow motion train wreck whose origins go waaaay back. It is Rahm’s problem to fix, currently.


  26. - Carhartt Representative - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:54 am:

    = If CTU makes some significant concessions, it provides a good responsive talking point.=

    You look at this thread or any comment section. I don’t know that it matters. If teachers agreed to work for $1 next year, I expect a great number of people would complain that they were getting $1 and explain that in the private sector they have to pay for the privilege of working. If teachers are looking to be thanked for the sacrifices they make for children, they will be waiting a long time.


  27. - RNUG - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:57 am:

    -Carhartt Representative-

    Any idea if it is hundreds per year ( which would be somewhat expected) or thousands per year?


  28. - Honeybear - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 9:59 am:

    Well lets see what happens with it. I am greatly heartened that CTU seems to have movement. I am also greatly disturbed that if they work it out it will mean that once again AFSCME will be alone and bear more of the “see other unions compromise” line. What is offered to other unions is entirely different than what is being offered to AFSCME. AND I’d like to point out that at this point we can’t just make a deal. Rauner walked away from the table and says they are done and declared impasse. Would couldn’t deal or negotiate even though we want too. If Rauner/Rahm has engineered this move and CTU settles it would be a brilliant move well played. A CTU settlement would bring more pressure on the State workforce which will bring about more people leaving the workforce as soon as possible. It’s become hard to find coworkers not looking for another job. I have been warning people of the collapse. I’m not being hyperbolic. Pulling into work half the slots were empty. Now that people have personal days they are using them to job hunt and take time away from the toxic work environment. I’d ask CMS if there was an uptick in sicktime, personal time, etc. I’d bet there has been. People are saying it’s not worth it. Congrats Governor your campaign to lower healthcare and pension costs is working perfectly. If go to a state office though, bring a book. You are going to be sitting for a while.


  29. - Carhartt Representative - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 10:03 am:

    =Any idea if it is hundreds per year ( which would be somewhat expected) or thousands per year?=

    Low thousands. More on PPO and less on HMO. For us, I’m guessing $1,500 out of salary. Maybe $2,000 when you throw in copay and deductible changes.


  30. - Anony - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 10:07 am:

    Honeybear - genuine question….are your coworkers finding jobs that are better situations for them?


  31. - RNUG - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 10:16 am:

    So it sounds like health insurance goes in the tie or loss column on this deal. Makes the total 1 win, 2 ties, and 1 loss or 1 win and 3 ties, depending on how you look at it.


  32. - Carhartt Representative - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 10:41 am:

    =So it sounds like health insurance goes in the tie or loss column on this deal. Makes the total 1 win, 2 ties, and 1 loss or 1 win and 3 ties, depending on how you look at it.=

    In some ways, I wonder if that’s not worse than a union. If it’s four losses everybody can be insulted and lash out in righteous anger. If it’s four wins, everybody can celebrate it’s a victory. If it’s 1-1-3 then half the people will support it and half will want to strike. It’s got to be harder to build unity that way.


  33. - Sue - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 10:42 am:

    So, $875 million in SHORT term borrowing? To be repaid in 30 days? That’s what I heard yesterday, but can’t find it anywhere. Is that correct or did someone mis-speak? That would certainly put CPS on the road to bankruptcy.
    I don’t trust Rahm. CTU should hold on to their leverage until this bond deal is done and all details are public.


  34. - Boss Tweed - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 10:46 am:

    @ Felix-

    OTOH, you’ve got the old Kennedy/Hatch routine where the Principal was such a rock-ribbed fire-breather that when they came back saying they got a good deal, the others implicitly trust them.

    Not sure which one it will be, don’t discount either.


  35. - Anony - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 10:49 am:

    Sue - hasn’t CPS been spending more than they take in for a long time? If this deal, even with concessions, results in CPS continuing to spend more than they take in, it seems like Fool’s Gold to me. The plan has to have a road to solvency or it’s a bad deal for CPS, CTU, and the public.


  36. - JS Mill - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 11:07 am:

    From what they are saying publicly it sounds as if there were some rational minds at work in this negotiations.

    The reality is that teachers are going to have to make some concessions at the bargaining table these days. And, if the have in the past, they will have to make even more now. That is just a simple economic reality.

    The real challenge is how do we balance cost reductions or containment and still provide opportunities for students? That is the challenge that administration and school boards must address successfully.

    Having been at the bargaining table recently I would agree with RNUG’s assessment and add that CPS can call it a win as well- averting a strike and managing some concessions from CTU. Probably one of their most successful contract negotiations.


  37. - Honeybear - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 11:13 am:

    Anony- Here’s the problem. There is very little out there for them. Private sector social services have been destroyed in the Metro East. So really there isn’t any place for them to go. Many are in school getting Masters degrees but it’s in the wrong discipline for finding work (ie. counseling) The ones that might be lucky are the MSW’s we have 4 in our office. They can go to either hospitals or to schools with that degree. I’m shot. My masters is basically in Pastoral Care. I’m stuck here. You can’t make a living anymore starting over again in hospice or hospital chaplaincy. Plus my overall focus is raising my teen girls. I’ve got 4 more years before they are off to Navy ROTC. No my highly educated, experienced and trained coworkers are by and large screwed for finding work. It doesn’t mean they aren’t looking. One is thinking about going back to Chicago and another just left last month for there.


  38. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 11:15 am:

    ==the basic framework calls for economic concessions in exchange for enforceable protections of education quality and job security==

    Could be a successful example for parts of the Rauner and AFSCME negotiations.


  39. - walker - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 11:40 am:

    Nothing like the threat of a hostile takeover to focus the mind.


  40. - Honeybear - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 11:45 am:

    FKA each contract is totally different. There is literally nothing that can be utilized.


  41. - Carhartt Representative - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 11:56 am:

    =Nothing like the threat of a hostile takeover to focus the mind.=

    I don’t think anybody at either CTU or CPS thinks that’s going to fly. The problem is that there are bond investors who do believe it’s a possibility. That makes a contract with the teachers important because that will calm down bond buyers’ fears.


  42. - TD - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 12:23 pm:

    I’ll reserve judgment until the actual details are released, but I hope all parties here, including City of Chicago, keep in mind the need to attract new, quality teachers to CPS. Good CPS schools expect new teachers to have masters degrees. But those candidates, who will already be on Tier II and have to expend personal funds on school supplies and have significant student loans, won’t want to work for the low amount of take home pay that CPS may offer. You can’t get blood from a stone on many levels in this situation.


  43. - Anony - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 12:40 pm:

    Honeybear - thanks for the info.

    TD - thanks to you as well. This is a difficult situation, with no really pretty outcomes apparent. Sacred cows may not be too sacred for long, for any of the parties.


  44. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 1:04 pm:

    @Honeybear - That is correct. It could be an example, but not a model. They are different, but a fair trade can often be made for ==economic concessions==.

    At least take it as an example of how to be grown ups. If Emanuel and Lewis can grow up, so can they.


  45. - Honeybear - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 1:43 pm:

    FKA, unfortunately we may never know because Rauner walked away from the table. We want to continue. He walked away.


  46. - Carhartt Representative - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 3:24 pm:

    =I’ll reserve judgment until the actual details are released, but I hope all parties here, including City of Chicago, keep in mind the need to attract new, quality teachers to CPS. Good CPS schools expect new teachers to have masters degrees. But those candidates, who will already be on Tier II and have to expend personal funds on school supplies and have significant student loans, won’t want to work for the low amount of take home pay that CPS may offer. You can’t get blood from a stone on many levels in this situation.=

    One part of the deal that hasn’t been reported is that there is a very significant cash incentive for older teachers to retire so that they can be replaced with new cheaper teachers. With a teacher shortage and an unstable district with difficult working conditions, this may in fact be a very important consideration next year.


  47. - Wensicia - Friday, Jan 29, 16 @ 4:10 pm:

    “CPS institutes ‘lifetime ban’ for students who lie to get into top schools”

    “The rule applies to students who falsely claim Chicago residency to win access to the schools,”

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-cps-selective-enrollment-fraud-policy-20160129-story.html


  48. - Opinion - Monday, Feb 1, 16 @ 1:39 am:

    It would appear the contract proposal will go down in defeat this week for the mayor. To many poison pills to swallow by the CTU for members to take. After all what was the point of holding a rally at Grant Park? What was the point of holding a strike vote that specifically stated would you be willing to strike if CPS took away your pension? A majority said yes and now the CTU leadership does a 360 on its position ? Sounds like they are being strong armed on this one. Fair contract equals frozen health care costs, split the 7% difference for members to 3.5% and go back to a shorter school year.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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