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Eight-hour session at City Hall results in CTU victory... CPS surrenders in 'Longer School Day' waiver battle with Chicago Teachers Union

In a stunning turn of events the Chicago Public Schools declared on November 4, 2011 in a statement that it would stop direct dealing with school workers about the length of the school day and cease and desist from offering inducements to employees to vote in favor of lengthening the school day. The statement was part of an agreement that the Chicago Teachers Union would drop its demand for an injunction to stop Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s push to force union workers to work longer hours without proper compensation and in violation of the union contract. The agreement came after an eight-hour meeting between union officials and representatives of the Board of Education at the mayor's office on the fifth floor of Chicago's City Hall.

Surrounded by union and community supporters, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis announced the resolution on the injunction at a November 4, 2011 press conference at CTU headquarters. Substance photo. A noon press conference on Friday, November 4, 2011, at CTU headquarters announced the deal.

The announcement of the agreement came on the day that the Union, the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board, and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan were going to go to court to seek injunctive relief against the mayor’s longer school day initiative. Earlier, the union had won a ruling from the IELRB that the mayor's push for the longer school day had violated Illinois labor law. Beginning in late August, as part of what it called its "Pioneers" program, the Chicago Board of Education had tried to go around the Chicago Teachers Union contract and bribe individual teachers to waive their collective bargaining rights. By the end of September only 13 out of nearly 500 CPS elementary schools had cut the deal with CPS officials.

The settlement between the Board and the Union came only after a unanimous vote the five-member Illinois Education Labor Relations Board (IELRB) approved the Chicago Teachers Union claims for injunctive relief to stop the Chicago Board of Educations unilateral imposing of a longer school day outside if the collective bargaining process. The issue in question is the school board's push to forcibly institute a "Longer School Day" under the command of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his appointees at the Chicago Board of Education. The decision of the IELRB was announced on October 20, 2011.

The IELRB is the state agency administering the Illinois Education Labor Relations Act. The IELRA establishes the right of educational employees to organize and bargain collectively. Labor law forbids any attempt by an employer to go behind the back of the recognized collective bargaining agent. The IELRB in effect held that the campaign, in August and September, by the Chicago Public Schools to get teachers and other union staff at individual schools to vote in favor of the "Longer School Day" as proposed by CPS was a violation of Illinois Labor law.

What forced CPS to admit and promise to stop its illegal activities is the fact that the Illinois Attorney General was going to court on the Union’s behalf to ask a judge to force CPS top stop its illegal activities of bribery and coercion of teachers to vote in favor of extending the school day in individual schools without being compensated for the extra time at work. The injunction might have even forced the handful of schools currently on the longer day to return to the former schedule.

In a news conference at noon on November 4, 2011 at the Chicago Teachers Union headquarters, CTU President Karen Lewis announced the settlement on the injunction portion of the case. The Union was supported by a coalition of Union leaders and community leaders. Most prominent among the Unions in support were the Chicago Federation of Labor and the Fraternal Order of Police. All of whom supported the idea of a longer school day for children but stood in solidarity with the Chicago Teachers Union against the union busting tactics used by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his hand picked schools superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard.

President Lewis stated that after an 8-hour meeting on Thursday November 3, 2011, CPS voluntarily agreed to stop the unlawful school waiver program of in its tracks. The meeting was attended by Vice President Jesse Sharkey and Lewis, Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, School Board President David Vitale, CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, and others.

Lewis said that CPS agreed in writing that for the duration of the school year it will not conduct any more waiver votes to lengthen the school day and it will not implement longer school days at any more CTU-represented schools than the 13 schools that previously voted for them.

CPS further agreed in writing to stop dealing directly with Union-represented employees about length of school day or compensation for working it, to stop offering its employees any inducements to agree to a longer school day, and to stop violating the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

CTU president Karen Lewis stated “We respectfully acknowledge the Chicago Public Schools and CEO Jean-Claude Brizard for voluntarily agreeing to stop the longer day waiver program in its tracks rather than forcing a showdown with the Attorney General. As part of our agreement, Mr. Brizard is personally notifying every CPS teacher and paraprofessional today of his decision to stop conducting the waiver votes and stops direct dealing with CPS teachers.”

Pressed by reporters from the the city's corporate media to admit that the Union did not want a longer school day in Chicago, President Lewis made is perfectly clear what the Union’s position is on extending the school day in Chicago. “As the Union has stated numerous times on the record," she said, "it does not oppose a longer school day, but it seeks a better school day that is fairly implemented. Now this means that we can get back to the important work of teaching our students and discussing how to best improve our school day. Research is clear that a broad curriculum and smaller class sizes are key to improving student performance. We look forward to discussing with the Board how to best implement a school day, district wide that is not just longer, but is also better.”

In trying to keep the negotiations regarding extending the school day as part of the bargaining process and not media sounds bites between the Union, CPS, and City Hall, President Lewis made it clear that this case was not about the longer school day, but about a government agency and a Mayor who believed they were above the law. According to union officials, upheld by the IELRB, CPS had been acting as if Collective Bargaining Agreements were something just on paper that were not enforceable.

“As the IELRB stated in its October 20, 2011 order, ‘The hallmark of American law is the contract. It is the basis of the American rule of law and freedom. In America, the parties freely choose to enter into an agreement and to be bound by the four corners of the agreement for the agreed upon term. Here, the contract at issue is a collective bargaining agreement between the Union and the Employer… In the United States of America, no entity is above the law. No individual, corporation or governmental entity is free to unilaterally abrogate its contractual agreements without following the appropriate legal process, in this case review by the administrative agency established by the legislature to administer the law, and ultimately by the courts, as they have final review of administrative rulings,” President Lewis answered reports as they pressed for a sound bit against extending the school day in Chicago.

President Lewis concluded her comments with “Now that everyone is in agreement that negotiations over how to improve educational performance in Chicago need to respect the rule of law, we can get on to actually talking about how to do that.”

The full signed agreement is below with the Board’s letter to all Chicago Public Schools employees explaining the settlement.

AGREEMENT

The Chicago Board of Education ("Board") and the Chicago Teachers Union ("Union") hereby agree to the following terms regarding resolution of the Union's request that the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board ("IELRB") authorize its General Counsel to seek preliminary injunctive relief in the matter of Chicago Teachers Union v. Chicago Board of Education, Case No. 2012-CA-0009-C.

WHERAS, the Union filed a request for the IELRB to seek preliminary injunctive relief directing the Board to cease and desist from implementing the longer school day and expanding its application;

WHEREAS, thirteen (13) elementary schools (as identified in the attached Appendix A), have adopted a longer school day for the 2011-2012 school year and have implemented the longer school day or are in the process of doing so;

WHEREAS, on October 20, 2011, the IELRB issued its Opinion and Order ("Order") authorizing its General Counsel to seek injunctive relief to prevent the Board from dealing directly with employees about the length of the school day and compensation for working a longer school day, from offering inducements to employees to vote in favor of lengthening the school day, and from unilaterally modifying the terms of the collective bargaining agreement;

WHEREAS, the parties mutually wish to resolve the request for injunctive relief presented in the Order without proceeding further and without the uncertainty, disruption, expense and time inherent in litigating the question of injunctive relief in the Circuit Court of Cook County;

NOW, THEREFORE, the parties agree as follows:

1) Only the thirteen (13) elementary schools identified in Appendix A shall be permitted to implement the longer school day, through the end of the 2011-2012 school year, and subject to the outcome of Unfair Labor Practice charge in Case No. 2012-CA-0009-C.

2) The Board agrees that for the remainder of the 2011-2012 school year it shall not seek waiver votes at any additional schools beyond the thirteen (13) identified in Appendix A, where the purpose of the waiver vote is to authorize a longer school day. The Board further agrees that it will not deal directly with employees represented by the Union about the length of the school day or compensation for working a longer school day, offer inducements to employees represented by the Union to vote in favor of lengthening the school day or unilaterally modify the terms of the collective bargaining agreement with the Union.

3) The Parties agree to immediately request the IELRB to withdraw its request to the Attorney General for injunctive relief.

4) If the Board violates this Agreement, the IELRB's General Counsel immediately may request that the Attorney General of the State of Illinois file a motion for a preliminary injunction. The Board will not object to the IELRB's request, but reserves its defenses to any claims filed by the Attorney General.

5) This Agreement does not affect the parties' pending Unfair Labor practice hearing before the IELRB on the merits of the Complaint, scheduled currently to commence on December 14, 2011.

6) This Agreement shall remain in effect until the conclusion of the unfair labor practice proceedings in IELRB Case No. 2012-CA-0009-C, or the expiration of the CTU labor contract on June 30, 2012, whichever occurs first.

7) Nothing in this Agreement constitutes an admission or concession by any party as to their respective positions as to the merits of the underlying unfair labor practice charge, the Union's request for injunctive relief, or the legality of the process through which the longer school day was implemented in the schools identified in the attached Appendix A.

Dated this 3rd day of November, 2011

CHICAGO BOARD OF EDUCATION

By: /s/ Patrick Rocks

Title: General Counsel

CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION

By: /s/ Karen J. Lewis, NBCT

Title: President

BRIZARD'S LETTER TO ALL CPS EMPLOYEES.

The following letter was part of the agreement was be sent by Jean-Claude Brizard by electronic mail to every CTU teacher and paraprofessional by November 4, 2011.

Dear Colleagues:

As you know, over the past several months our district’s leadership team and the Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) have been involved in a dispute over the votes by individual schools to adopt a longer school day. Recently, that dispute led the CTU to file a request with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) to seek preliminary injunctive relief directing the Board of Education to stop implementing a longer school day through school waiver votes. The IELRB issued a complaint over the 13 schools that had adopted a longer school day, and subsequently, it unanimously issued an order authorizing its general counsel to file a court action seeking injunctive relief.

Though we have not resolved our dispute over the legality of the waiver votes at 13 schools, our leadership team and the CTU have agreed to avoid a costly court battle over an injunction that would be disruptive to the Chicago Public Schools. Accordingly, the district has agreed that it will not, for the duration of the current CTU labor contract:

- implement a lengthened school day at any Chicago Public School whose teachers and paraprofessionals are represented by the CTU and who did not previously vote to authorize a lengthened school day.

- deal directly with employees about the length of the school day or compensation for working a longer school day, offer inducements to employees to vote in favor of lengthening the school day, or unilaterally modify the terms of the collective bargaining agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union.

I have instructed the principals at all district schools to observe these terms. CTU President Karen Lewis and I agree that we need to turn the page and get on with the work of educating every child in every neighborhood. We are resolved to move forward in a mutually respectful and collaborative relationship.

I want to thank the CTU’s leadership for working with us to resolve this matter. And I want to thank you for your continued support and commitment. Sincerely,

Jean-Claude Brizard

Chief Executive Officer

The mayor's press office also sent out a statement to the media. It is reprinted here:

STATEMENT FROM MAYOR EMANUEL APPLAUDING AGREEMENT ON LONGER SCHOOL DAYS FOR CHICAGO’S STUDENTS. I applaud the agreement of Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Jean-Claude Brizard allow 13 schools to implement a full school day this year and drop the pending lawsuit. A dispute over the decision of these schools to spend 90 more minutes in the classroom would have accomplished nothing for our children. We must focus our efforts on the classroom – not the courtroom. As we make plans for all schools to begin a longer school day next year, collaboration between leaders of CPS and CTU will become even more important to the success of our students in the classroom and in the workforce for the future. Above all, our students must come first.



Comments:

November 7, 2011 at 9:11 AM

By: Chris Rudzinski

The Story on union VICTORY

My previous comment was deleted.

Again, the temporary restrain will not affect the CPS system at this time, because on December 14, 2011 the decision on merit is expected. Where is a real deal?

According to Karen..."union does not oppose a longer school day".

So, how often can you change your mind?

Previously, it was a strike issue, now a longer school day. What is the difference between bargaining and a collusion? .

November 9, 2011 at 7:55 AM

By: John Whitfield

Meanwhile, our 4% raise?

The "rank n' file" teachers and staff, meanwhile, along with the engineers, cafeteria workers, and others are still working without a raise that we are due, and we would like to have that as a Christmas present. We know CPS and the city have this in the TIF funds that should have been allocated to the schools.

And we are asked to do more and more — from "culture of calm" duties, to teaching to the Network, as if teaching to the standarised tests weren't bad enough.

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