BOARDWATCH: Alderman makes powerful push to get CPS to rectify 'toxic swap' deals and straighten our TIF financial issues...

Although the line of public officials speaking before public participation at the beginning of the January 27, 2016 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education was shorter than usual, the one Chicago alderman who spoke delivered a powerful reminder to the Board (it would be unfair to call it a "plea") that the Board had to act in the interests of the city's public school children -- and not continue to do the bidding of the mayor who had appointed them.

Alderman Carlos Ramirez - Rosa (35th Ward) speaking at the January 27, 2016 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Alderman Carlos Ramirez - Rosa (35th Ward), a 2007 graduate of Chicago's Whitney Young High School, spoke to the Board after the reports from CPS officials were completed.

He talked of the $1.3 billion in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) in the city, noting that instead of expensive borrowing CPS could demand the use of surplus TIF dollars for the latest "crisis" in CPS. Ramirez Rosa objected to the facts that in many TIFs, the money often goes to "deep-pockets people" and not to the average person in the community. He stated that CPS is in desperate need of funds and that Springfield should require the city to use the surplus TIF funds for schools. He said that Springfield has said we'll make you do it and wants the Board of Education (BOE) to join this. Rhetorically, he asked, "Who has the power?" and replied, "It is no secret who has it." He added that the fees, fines and interest paid to banks should have gone to schools. He insisted that the moral argument is, "What is a more just use of our money?" He stated that the money needs to go the the schools and that other municipalities do this. He concluded by saying that the BOE should sit down with experts, that there's another way, and that members of the City Council will work and pray that you do the right thing for our children.



January 28, 2016 at 10:56 PM

By: Ed Hershey

Have his speech

Do you? I'd like to see it

January 29, 2016 at 4:05 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Ramirez Rosa's Board speech not yet sent...

I expected that Alderman Ramirez Rosa would have emailed me his speech by now. I asked him to do so, and he said that he would. As soon as he has provided it to us, I will post it here -- and elsewhere, since it also can help some of our union leaders understand why there is no reason to be panicking now in light of the latest ruling class claim that the CTU MUST SIGN A CONTRACT BY TUESDAY -- because Wall Street says so??? The remarks by Ramirez Rosa shows one reason why in 2016 -- as opposed to 1979 -- the leadership of the CTU doesn't have to panic and try to foist the worst contract in history on the union's membership.

January 29, 2016 at 12:00 PM

By: Rod Estvan

Worst contract in history?

Then this proposal has to be particularly bad George. If the Catalyst report that there could be a vote in the union House of delegates by Wensday has any validity to it then it would seem the deal is being fast tracked by the leadership.

Rod Estvan

January 29, 2016 at 12:10 PM

By: Sharon Schmidt

Teachers want bargaining team to slow down

At our union meetings this week at Steinmetz, CTU members said they don't want to see us accept a crappy contract. They don't want huge financial losses; they don't want "community" schools that sound like the end of CTU protection for some members and awfully similar to the "First Start" ("Fresh Start"?) schools pushed by Marilyn Stewart.

They want the big bargaining team to be honest. They said there is no reason to rush this through now.

One colleague wrote: "I'm absolutely disgusted our union would even present us this contract to consider. . This is Insulting. ..what is there to even talk about? SMH in horror that some would even contemplate this. .."

Another said, "ABSOLUTELY NOT. I am not impressed by the offer and feel it would be a terrible decision to even consider this as the best we can do. Despite what Karen Lewis has been promoting as a serious offer that we need to consider, it is a serious JOKE. NO NO NO."

As delegates we promised not to vote for anything that looks this bad.

January 29, 2016 at 10:52 PM

By: George Cruz


I can't understand how the CTU could even contemplate even presenting this contract. What was the point of holding a strike vote and make press statement after statement that taking away pension pickups would be "Strike worthy" and that our members couldn't accept a 12-13% pay cut in total???

So in other words every teacher will have to realize that when 2020 hits when this supposed contract expires, teachers will be still making LESS THAN WHAT THEY WERE MAKING IN 2015!

I hope the House of Delegates votes this down and sends it back to be renegotiated!

January 30, 2016 at 5:22 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

CTU democracy on contract voting...

Just as the Chicago Teachers Union has to follow a procedure to authorize a strike, so, too, there is a procedure for ratifying a contract. Despite the misinformation published in the January 29, 2016 Chicago Sun-Times, the "Big Bargaining Team" has no formal or legal standing under the CTU Constitute and By-Laws in this process. No matter how many talking points and one-liners they speak, the union's officers (who are the actual "bargaining team") must bring a full and complete "TA" (I hate jargon; this year "TA" is bureaucratic for "Proposed Tentative Agreement") to the House of Delegates. After the House of Delegates studies and debates the Proposed Tentative Agreement, the HOD votes whether or not to recommend the Proposed Tentative Agreement to a vote of all the union's active duty members. Only AFTER a membership vote of "YES" does the union have a contract.

Twice since the beginning of this century, union leaders have brought in an unsatisfactory Proposed Tentative Agreement to the HOD -- and the members.

Marilyn Stewart's last contract (the five year deal that expired in June 2010) was railroaded through the House of Delegates (as we reported here at Substance, Stewart didn't even all and count the "NO" votes in the HOD, instead running downstairs and holding a press conference). The sellouts in the last Stewart contract included Fresh Start and the alleged vague language that enabled the Board to cheat the members out of the final year of the agreement (the four percent raise for the 2011 - 2012 school year, which the CORE leadership went along with, by the way).

Earlier in the 21st Century, "reform" leader Debbie Lynch brought a PTA to the HOD -- and it was voted down. Then Lynch went back to the bargaining table. She returned with basically the same PTA, which the members voted up after a mendacious campaign in support of the deal that Lynch described as "not only bringing home the bacon, but I brought you the whole hog..." Among the piggish problems in that PTA -- which became the contract -- was the infamous "click off" provision for "PATs". Lynch's "team" was so inattentive that in her zeal to "eliminate FTBs" (full time substitute teachers who had rights) Lynch let principals strip the rights of teachers who had been FTBs with the infamous [mouse] CLICK.

Everyone knows what happened to Dr. Lynch and PACT in the 2004 CTU election and to Marilyn Stewart and the "New UPC" in the 2010 election.

The leaders of the CTU back in the 1960s and early 1970s built in very strong democratic controls over these things (the HOD and member votes on contracts, which require that the leadership provide ALL the details and language of every contract before the votes). Despite all the hard work and hoopla of the members of the BBT (Big Bargaining Team), and despite the article in the Chicago Sun-Times, any PTA has to go through the EBoard and then the HOD and then the membership.

Facts of course have been in short supply in the CTU since the BBT became central to the spinning about the PTA by the actual BT. But even though most of the members in the schools are very busy with overwork (thanks to another failure of the current BT people and their lawyers), the vast majority of the members of both the HOD and the "rank and file" which supposedly governs this union are now paying very close attention to the financial facts about CPS and to the content of the Proposed Tentative Agreement that the leadership seems to be trying to spin to the membership while the ruling class claims, without any real historical foundation, hysterically, that all this has to be done by Tuesday, February 2, 2016 or,

As Chicken Little and Chicken Claypool are screaming...


...only until 2020 on the majority of members of the once mighty CTU if the members get sold on this deal, and therefore go along with being sold out.

January 30, 2016 at 7:23 AM

By: Rod Estvan

Charter school provision in contract not worth much

I read in the Tribune yesterday this in relationship to the new contract proposal: "Under the proposal for a new contract, which would replace a pact that expired June 30, CPS also could not increase the number of charter schools beyond the 130 or so that operate now, a source said. The district could approve and open new charter schools if it closes others." As long as the Illinois State Charter School Commission ( )exists this provision is meaningless. The Commission will over rule the CPS Board on the denials for additional charters and will most definitely not in anyway see this provision in the contract as consistent with the existing State charter school law.

Up to now several attempts have been made to abolish this Commission by the legislature and have not succeeded. There is no question if such a bill passed it would be vetoed by Governor Rauner and there are not enough votes to override his veto on this given the support of some Democrats and virtually all Republicans for Charter Schools.

Rod Estvan

January 30, 2016 at 8:37 AM

By: George Cruz

Contract Holes

This contract has holes big enough for a truck to drive thru. Shared sacrifice is the word the CTU leadership has used. However, one has forgotten sacrifices have already been made by educators . The last contract 4% raise was stripped from every teacher. Everybody in the CTU should technically be making 4% more on top of what their current salary is. But CTU agreed to let that 4% go without even a fight. So what did CPS do with that money I ask that could've gone into stabilizing the pensions? An arbitrator during fact finding in the last contract ruled in favor of giving teachers a 15-20% for working the longer day and year. What did the CTU leadership agree upon? A 3%-2%-2% pay raise based upon CPS fuzzy math. It seems that the CTU didn't have anyone run the numbers without realizing that once you change the the number of days teachers were working from 203-to 208 it drastically reduced the value of these raises. So in essence teachers were coming home with $1.50 raises a day totallying $16 extra on their checks in exchange for working 20% more . That alone is a sacrifice that was made by teachers not to mention increased healthcare contributions. And how can we forget the dreaded evaluation designed to go after tenure veteran teachers who are to expensive to maintain. The CTU caved in to early in the last contract during the strike and as CPS agreed to hire 500 more members, as soon as the ink wasn't even dried on the new contract...thousands of teachers were fired when 59 schools were shutdown forever .

Again TEACHERS HAVE SACRIFICED LONG ENOUGH! Now their being asked to make such drastic financial contributions that basically take their pay back into time of the early 2000s under the leadership of PACT. Despite the fact that $500 plus million property tax is going to hit every teacher along with 5% state income tax hike that by the way will be coming back to fix the state budget. So the reality is teachers will be losing far more than ever. As once told by a retired workshop teacher from Lane Tech never give up the sacrifices made by past members to which they striked over. The pension pickup are differed pay raises period !

What has CPS sacrificed? Those positions cut last week in reality many will be rehired , given new titles has to hide the true number of positions or transferred to other departments . Not to mention the dreaded Network Beuracracy which duplicates central office duties has been allowed to survive, along with TIF money untouched . And lastly the City of Chicago called on property tax increases to stabilize the police and fire pensions but NOT THE TEACHERS PENSION?

Sounds like teachers are about to be hammered like never before!

January 30, 2016 at 10:34 AM

By: Bev Johns

Details of proposed contract?

How is pension contribution raised year by year? How much more will teachers contribute to health costs? How much co-pays increased and deductibles increased?

How will Charter School limit avoid being overruled by State Charter School Commission?

What are the salary increases year to year?

What is language that prevents CPS from laying off current teachers?

January 30, 2016 at 12:53 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

Four percent surrender -- compounded every year!

I'll just talk briefly here about the surrender of the current union leadership of the four percent pay raise that we due during the fifth year of the 2007 - 2011 contract (the last Marilyn Stewart contract).

The fact is, the union leadership agreed, as part of the rush to end the strike, not to push the grievance we (I was part of the CTU researchers at that time, and had an office at CTU where I helped with research) had filed and already held one hearing about.

The grievance charged that the Board had falsely claimed that it didn't have the money for the final year of the contract.

The Board claimed that it didn't have to prove it didn't have the money, but only to assert that it had a "reasonable belief" that it more or less might not have the money, sort of maybe (I'm not exaggerating).

We (the CTU) might have taken that grievance all the way to arbitration or to the Illinois State Education Labor Relations Board (IELRB). We had been denied by the Board at the "Board level." I was one of the witnesses on the budget reality for CTU (Kurt was the other).

Instead of appealing the grievance to the "next level," the CTU leadership agreed to drop it as part of what was basically a secret codicil to the final contract that ended the 2012 strike. I only found out about this long after the strike "victory."

Now think about a four percent "raise" in context for everyone.

That four percent would have been on everyone's salary for the first year (2011 - 2012) and every raise after that would have been calculated on the basis of that "base line." So the "four percent" from July 1, 2011 would have increased pay by more than 10 percent -- for everyone -- by today.

January 30, 2016 at 1:17 PM

By: George Cruz

Contract Holes


CPS plans to phase out the pension pickup for educators each year . If I'm not mistaken 2% year one, add another 2% for a total of 4% PAYCUT. Plus another 2% added in year 3 of contract and so on till all of the 7% is absorbed by teachers. This doesn't even include the additional healthcare cost which is a further PAYCUT . Not even including the no pay holiday before thanksgiving another PAYCUT . Please take a picture of your current check stub for memories since it will be the last time you'll ever be making that much EVER till a new decade emerges in 2020s. Lastly, don't worry according to news sources teachers do get a raise in year 3 & 4 of 1.5% and 1.8% if I'm not mistaken. That alone won't even be enough to cover the healthcare increases.

The only hope is the House of Delegates aka politburo makes the right choice and votes it down so that it forces the CTU to renegotiate just like with Debbie Lynch. Picking up a greater share of the pension is one thing, but dumping the entire 7% plus healthcare is OUTRAGEOUS. The only question on my mind is will the big bargaining team approve or reject it???

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