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Chicago Board of Education officials, lawyers tell union 'None of your business' when CTU leaders propose finding budget waste to offset firing of teachers and increase in high school class sizes

Representatives of the Chicago Board of Education and the Board's outside labor relations counsel, attorney James Franczek, basically told Chicago Teachers Union representatives to "buzz off" when union leaders offered to find waste and fraud in the massive (roughly $7 billion) annual budget. In a heated exchange during the first day of discussions between the new leadership of the 30,000-member teachers union and the Board on July 23, 2010, the city's position became clear. Teachers and other citizens who question the Board of Education's spending priorities or identify savings that can save teachers' jobs are being told "None of your business."

Above, Chicago Teachers Union officers (including President Karen Lewis, in grey suit with red top near the left) and members of the team that will be monitoring talks with CPS officials on behalf of the union's 30,000 members held the union contract aloft on July 23, 2010 before leaving the Merchandise Mart to go to meet with Board of Education attorneys and officials, who are demanding that the union accept increased class sizes and staff cuts or give up the four percent raises guaranteed by contract for the 2010-2011 and 2011 - 2012 school years. Despite an offer by Lewis to cooperate with the Board in finding waste in the Board's $7 billion budget, CPS demanded that the cuts be made or the raises given up, making the contract's integrity the center of the confrontation that Lewis made clear she wanted to avoid. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.According to information published on the union's website (www.ctunet.com) on the morning of July 24, 2010, the day after the unprecedented meeting, the union reported the following:

Board refuses to change direction on staff cuts, even if CTU finds waste (7-24-2010)

Yesterday's budget talks between the Board of Education and the CTU leadership with the 34-member rank-and-file negotiating team left many questions unanswered. However, the Board made one thing clear: no matter how much waste the CTU finds in the CPS budget, they don't want to hear about it. They are too invested in keeping the status quo with their non-classroom spending habits that they are willing to raise class sizes and cut off services for our students.

The Board's lawyers claimed that jobs can be saved if CTU members agreed to "contract modidifications"-concessions by another name. However, they refused to guarantee that those "modifications" would stave off staff cuts.

The Board's lawyer, James Franczek, asserted:

1. Deficit discussions should be separate from contract concession talk.

2. Nothing but contract concessions can save jobs, even if the CTU finds enough wasteful spending to plug the deficit.

3. CPS will not agree to protect staffing levels, even if CTU agrees to all concessions.

Prior to the meeting, the CTU held a press conference where reporters asked President Lewis about possible concessions. She told them that she refused to use the "c-word." The CTU maintains that negotiating should be done face-to-face, and not in the media. Yesterday, the CTU forced the Board to meet face-to-face with forty rank-and-file members, exposing their malfeasance.

Although the next meeting has not been scheduled, this discussion is far from over.

The CTU Officers would like to thank the members of the negotiating team who made this possible.

Beverly Allebach

Lois Ashford

Mike Baldwin

Finola Burrell

Carol Caref

Jim Cavallero

Lisa Dimberg

Suzanne Dunne

Mary Edmonds

Bernie Eschoo

Maureen Forte

Sheila Frazier

Noreen Gutekanst

Susan Hickey

Gloria Higgins

Rivanna Jihan

Jose Jiminez

Jen Johnson

Lois Jones

Joe Mcdermott

Adria Mitchell

Cielo Munoz

Gina O'connor

Al Ramirez

Jay Rehak

Francie Reizen

Annette Rizzo

John Silva

Eric Skalinder

Betty Smith

Pam Touras

Keith Vandermeulen

Arlene Williams

Crystal Williams

The members of the group accompanying the CTU leadershiip to the meeting have been trained in how to participate in such meetings and will be on call for future meetings of the sort that took place on July 23, 2010.

The Chicago Public Schools Office of Communications made no mention of the unprecedented meeting on July 23 or July 24.

Neither the Chicago Sun-Times nor the Chicago Tribune covered the event, although CTU officials informed both daily newspapers of the event and its importance. Prior to the event, the Chicago Sun-Times had published both news and editorials basically accepting the claims by CPS officials that the so-called "deficit" is as large as Ron Huberman claims and the Board's attorney's line that CTU must make concessions in the final two years of the current contract if teaching jobs are to be saved and class size increases avoided. 

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Comments:

July 24, 2010 at 2:39 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Deficit

How can CPS expect the Union/teachers to agree to concessions or to participate in any meaningful discussion when they won't say that it will make any difference in job loss and class size. That seems totally unreasonable on the part of CPS. Both sides needs to be honest and reasonable and right now it appears only the Union is talking in good faith.

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