CPS, CTU appear ready to reject arbitrator's report

July 16, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Both the teachers union and the school board are apparently ready to reject the report.

The Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union learned details of the independent fact finder's report -- which recommended a double digit salary hike for teachers -- at the same time as the public in what the president of the teachers union says was a tactic by CPS.

"CPS regrettably has leaked to the Chicago Tribune information contained in the report, creating confusion in Chicago as to its contents," said Karen Lewis, president, Chicago Teachers Union.

Lewis confirms that the report recommends a 15-20 percent pay hike for teachers in the contract's first year based largely on the longer school day that begins in the fall. The increase would include hikes for experience and pursuing graduate degrees.

The proposal does not bring the two sides together. The teachers union is asking for a wage increase of nearly 30 percent.

CPS recommends a two-percent pay raise and says anything more could force layoffs and create larger class sizes.

The district is facing a $655 million deficit next year and a spokesperson issued a statement saying: "We are operating under the most dire financial situation the district has ever faced, so any proposals around contract negotiations, whether they're from the fact finder or at the negotiation table with the CTU, must first be grounded in the fiscal reality CPS faces today."

In June, teachers union members overwhelmingly authorized a vote to strike, though they say they are working on negotiating a contract that will lead to schools opening in the fall, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel says is his priority.

"We have two ways of working through some very complicated issues," he said. "One is on the fiscal side the second is on the educational side. We are achieving goals educationally and now we need to have to deal with the fiscal."

The teachers union will discuss the arbitrator's report with its house of delegates on Wednesday. If the report is rejected by either side, talks must go on for another 30 days before a strike can begin.

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