If you are from the Chicagoland area, then you probably remember the CPS strike that happened back in September of 2012. The Chicago Teachers Union is in constant battle with coming to an agreement regarding Chicago Public Schools and their contracts for teachers. Most recently, the Chicago Teachers Union voted to reject a four-year contract offered by Chicago Public Schools. Their main reason for rejecting the offer is because of the concerns surrounding long-term funding for schools.
What this means for a strike
Chicago Teachers Union President, Karen Lewis, stated that there were a lot of great things in the contract offer. This is probably why many believed they would accept the offer. However, the Big Bargaining Team had a concern that CPS gave no long-term financial stability to union members. This is especially important in a contract because of all the budget issues going on throughout the state of Illinois. Cuts that CPS was asking for will not help to solve the problems and the union wants more sustainable funding. Because the teachers union did reject the contract, Lewis says that a strike is not out of the question. CPS classes end on June 21, and a strike would not happen before the middle of May.
CPS will continue working for an agreement
CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Forrest Claypool, was upset that the CTU decided to reject the offer. This is due to the fact that they reached a tentative agreement after 14 ongoing months of negotiations. In the agreement, teachers would get pay raises and guaranteed job security. One of the primary demands of the teachers union was to provide restrictions on charter school expansion and classroom autonomy for teachers. Although they made agreements on these issues, funding was still a key issue. Claypool said that CPS will remain committed to finalizing an agreement and wants to do so with students, parents, teachers, and the city in mind.
More than just salary increases
In the agreement, teachers of the union would receive a 2.75 percent raise during the 2016-2017 school year, and 3 percent for the next two years. Having these raises wasn’t enough as there was also a concern regarding teacher pension. In providing raises for the next couple of years, CPS wanted teachers to pay the entire 9 percent pension contribution, which includes the 7 percent the district agreed to contribute years ago. In doing this, veteran teachers would end up paying more in their pension, making it seem like CPS was trying to push these teachers out. They even offered $1,500 bonus per year of service if they chose to retire. The bargaining team didn’t feel it was right for CPS to put that kind of pressure on veteran teachers.
Bargaining team doesn’t trust Emanuel
It seems as though Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not a trusted man by the Chicago Teacher’s Union. After the 2012 teachers strike, Emanuel began to make efforts to be more cooperative with the teacher’s union. Not having faith in your own mayor would definitely weigh heavy when it comes to negotiations. Seeing as Emanuel had plans to work on the school funding, but was never mentioned in the contract, was definitely a cause for concern among the bargaining team.
Chicago Public School students will continue to attend classes, and time will tell if an agreement can be made, or if another strike will take place.