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CPS strike continues, Emanuel to file injunction

Sunday, September 16, 2012
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Mayor Rahm Emanuel is moving to take legal action to get kids back in school after the teachers union's House of Delegates said it needs more time to study the contract offer and show it to its members.

There will be no classes in the morning for 350,000 CPS students and not until Wednesday at the earliest will they return.

Emanuel is calling for dramatic action, asking city lawyers to file an injunction to end the strike and get children back into the classroom.

In a statement tonight the mayor said, "This continued action by union leadership is illegal on two grounds. It is over issues that are deemed by state law to be non-strikeable, and it endangers the health and safety of our children."

The mayor said the non-strikeable issues are hiring back laid off teachers and evaluations, two issues union members say they are still unhappy with.

Up until Sunday, union officials say the only information they had about the contract was summaries that were on the CTU and CPS websites, summaries that responded very differently from both sides.

They need more time. That is what the CTU's House of Delegates say about voting on a 180-page written contract they were just given Sunday afternoon.

"We really need to take was given to us back to membership to give our membership a fair chance to also to make a decision," said CTU delegate Erika Wozniak.

So until then, the strike continues and the school board says there is no reason why kids can't be back in school while teachers review the deal.

"Just as we have said this is a strike of choice, this has become a delay of choice, our kids cannot be used as pawns in internal union disagreements," said Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale.

CTU President Karen Lewis said her members don't trust the school board as the teachers are mulling over a 3-year deal that gives them raises each year

But Lewis said it's the issues of teacher evaluations and hiring back laid off teachers that remain sticking points.

"You have a population of people who are frightening of never being able to work," she said. "They just don't have the trust."

Lewis says her members are worried about future school closings, a number the CTU says may be close 200. The tentative contract calls for one-half of all new hires come from the laid-off pool. It also allows teachers to follow their students to other schools, if their school is subject to "school action."

"This is the deal we got," she said. "This is not a good deal by any stretch of imagination. Not to what our members are compared to having."

As city attorneys go to court Monday to seek an injunction, the union will meet again on Tuesday.

ABC-7 political analyst Laura Washington explained the move is a tactic to get kids back into the classroom.

"It supports his contention all along that he's all about the kids, that he supports the kids and that the teachers aren't," Washington said. "So this is part of his strategy to put this back on the teachers."

The teachers union says they're extending the strike because it needs more time to discuss the tentative contract that was reached this weekend.

While Emanuel claims the strike is illegal under state law, Washington explains why, she says, the teachers are abiding by the rules.

"The contract is about salary, it's about job working conditions," she said. "Those are the issues that are still under the table. So until they have resolved those issues, this is a legal strike."

The very earliest students could be back in class would be on Wednesday.

The proposed CTU/CPS contract, according to a release from CTU:

  • Secure Raises & Ensure Fair Compensation: The CTU wants a three-year contract. It will secure a 3% raise in the first year, 2% raise in the second and 2% raise in the third, with the option to extend to a 4th year by mutual agreement at another 3% raise.
  • Defeat Merit Pay: The CTU successfully fought the star of national misguided school reform policies. The Board agreed to move away from "Differentiated Compensation," which would have allowed them to pay one set of teachers (based on unknown criteria) one set of pay versus another set of pay for others.
  • Preserve Steps & Lanes: The new contract will preserve the full value of teachers and paraprofessionals career ladder (steps); and, it will increased the value of the highest steps (14,15 and 16)
  • Provide A Better School Day: The Board will hire 512 additional 'special' teachers in art, music, physical education, world languages and other classes to ensure students receive a better school day, a demand thousands of parents have called for since last year
  • Ensures Job Security: Creates a "CPS Hiring Pool," which demands that one-half of all of CPS hires must be displaced (laid-off) members.
  • Adds An Anti-Bullying Provision: No more bullying by principals and managerial personnel. The new language will curtail some of the abusive practices that have run rampant in many neighborhood schools.
  • Paraprofessional & Clinicians Prep Time: The new contract will guarantee preps for clinicians.
  • Racial Diversity: The CTU continues to fight the District on its lay-off policies that has led to a record number of African American educators being laid off and eventually terminated by the District. The new contract will ensure that CPS recruits a racially diverse teaching force.
  • New Recall Rights & Tackling School Closings: Acknowledging, the CTU will continue its ongoing legal and legislative fight for a moratorium on all school closings, turnarounds and phase-outs, the new contract requires teachers to "follow their students" in all school actions. This will reduce instability among students and educators. The contract will also have 10 months of "true recall" to the same school if a position opens.
  • Fairer Evaluation Procedures: The new contract will limit CPS to 70% "teacher practice," 30% "student growth" (or test scores)--which is the minimum by state law. It also secures in the first year of implementation of the new evaluation procedures there will be "no harmful consequences" for tenured teachers. It also secures a new right--the right to appeal a Neutral rating.
  • Reimbursement for School Supplies: The contract will require the District to reimburse educators for the purchase of school supplies up to $250.
  • Additional Wrap-Around Services: The Board agrees to commit to hire nurses, social workers and school counselors if it gets new revenue. Over the past several months, the CTU has identified several sources of new revenue, including the Tax Increment Financing program.
  • Books on Day One: For the first time, the new contract will guarantee all CPS students and educators have textbooks on day one and will not have to wait up to six weeks for learning materials.
  • Unified School Calendar: The new contract will improve language on a unified calendar. The District will have one calendar for the entire school district and get rid of Track E and Track R schools. All students and teaching personnel will begin on the same schedule.
  • Reduced Paperwork: The new contract ensures the new paperwork requirements are balanced against reduction of previous requirements.

More Contract Details

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