CTU delegates continue to talk, no vote yet

September 16, 2012 3:54:12 PM PDT
The Chicago Teachers Union's House of Delegates has been in session for over two hours Sunday as teachers try to decide whether or not to end the five-day walkout.

A delegate inside the talks said the session is now in the question-and-answer period, which could take quite some time.

Some CTU delegates headed into their scheduled Sunday meeting hopeful that the strike will end.

The delegates could decide today whether to their five-day walkout.

"I've got to look at it and see what it is first and see what it looks like," said art teacher Larry Crost. "I think we'll be back (Monday).

Sunday's caucus comes after marathon talks between school officials and union leadership yielded a written agreement to send the city's 350,000 public school kids back to class.

"Hopefully, this particular chapter will come to the kind of resolution that we want. I think some of the issues are still in play and are going to be in play," said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey.

Teacher Retirees M.L. Franzoni and Gloria Walton say educators got a better deal than the one following the 19 day strike in 1987.

"We didn't have the input that these teachers have today," said Walton. "I'm very proud of them that they've coalesced together and they've made a unit," said Walton.

"They can't say it's about the money because we were never, ever about the money. We were always about making sure that our students because they were not getting enough at home," said Franzoni.

Insiders say there is no guarantee teachers won't reject the proposed CPS contract or simply vote to take more time to review it.

    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

"We feel like there's been real gains. But I'm not willing to say we're out of the woods. We have a contract to get," Jesse Sharkey, Chicago Teachers Union, vice president, said.

Rallies held Saturday

As attorneys pored over legal language Saturday, teachers continued to rally at Union Park. They were joined by parents, students, and members of other unions.

"Because of CTU every teacher across this country is holding their head a little higher!" Kerry Motoviloff, Madison, Wisconsin Teachers Inc., said.

"No teacher becomes a teacher because they think they're going to get rich. This is not a get rich job! This is a love job!" said one protestor.

Lewis took a break from the bargaining table to fire up the crowd Saturday.

"I want them to turn off the air conditioning on the fifth floor of city hall and let them work like we work!" she said.

"I think they really believe that they've gotten a good deal going, a good framework going, and we'll vote on what we see," Michael Murphy, CTU delegate, said.

Saturday's event ended with a three-mile march to Garfield Park to highlight what organizers say is a lack of education resources in less-affluent neighborhoods.

"Parents and community members are supporting us more and more because they're hearing the truth about what is needed for a quality education for their kids," Michelle Mottram, CTU member, said.

South and West side community leaders are also calling for kids and teachers to be back in school. They gathered at the Black Star Project on South King Drive this weekend. Organizers say many community leaders and parents feel they should have been kept better informed about negotiations that will impact their children.


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