Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates approves a one-day 'unfair labor practices' strike for revenues for April 1, 2016.... The final vote was 486 in favor of the strike and 124 against...

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis answers questions from reporters at a union press conference following the vote of the union's House of Delegates to hold a one-day "unfair labor practice strike" on April 1, 2016. DNA Info photo.After a lengthy debate that took place across the schools of Chicago, the Chicago Teachers Union's House of Delegates on March 23, 2016 approved doing a one-day strike on April 1, 2016. The strike, which doesn't preclude a contract strike for May, is supposed to raise the issues that the city's schools (and other services) need more revenues and is officially being characterized as an "unfair labor practices" strike.

The final vote was 486 in favor of the strike and 124 against. Retiree delegates [including this reporter] were asked to leave the meeting room when the vote was counted; Retiree delegates cannot vote for strikes or for contracts according to the CTU constitution and by-laws. Others who were asked to leave before the vote was counted included union staff and visitors, who filled one side of the hall. The meeting took place at the offices and hall of the International Union of Operating Engineers, local 399. According to the motion that was passed, the strike will begin at 12:01 a.m. on the morning of April 1 and end at midnight that night.

The meeting was a "Special House of Delegates meeting", which means that only one item is on the agenda.

The four CTU officers spoke in favor of the proposal. Also speaking in favor were Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery, who said that the IFT's 100,000 members stood in solidarity with CTU, and John Miller, President of Local 4100, United University Professionals of Illinois. Montgomery and Miller stressed the need for improved funding for education in across Illinois at all levels and for unity. Miller told Substance on the side that his members would not be striking that day because it is "illegal" for them to so, but that many would call in and cancel their classes.

The union also posted a list on the projection screen behind the officers, showing support from at least 15 other unions and a long list of community organizations. Most of those, according to the union's officers will be with the CTU in a rally at the Thompson Center downtown on April 1. None of the unions in support of the one-day CTU strike will be striking that day.

The heated debate lasted for a half hour. At least a dozen delegates assembled at each of the four microphones to speak and the 15 minutes standard time to debate on a motion. The motion was amended to require a two-thirds vote. The debate was extended an extra 15 minutes, but an attempt continue for another 15 minutes after that first half hour was defeated. At that point, the overflow meeting moved for a vote count. President Karen Lewis announced that visitors and retiree delegates and union staff had to leave the hall so that the vote count only included school and functional group delegates.

A number of concerns were expressed from delegates. One of the problems some had with the proposal is that the CTU leadership had been vague in developing the proposal, which went from being a "Day of Action" to a "Work Action" to a "Strike". Many were uncertain what the union's leadership had originally meant when it talked about an "action," then a "work stoppage" and now finally a strike.

President Lewis and Vice President Jesse Sharkey said that this had been a problem. They have offered to continue attending school meetings between now and April 1 to try to make things more clear and solidify support for the strike.

Several delegates said their members were worried about the legality of a strike now. Lewis argued that this is not a strike to get a contract, but an "unfair labor practices" strike. Specifically, the union is striking on April 1 because the Board of Education took away the Lanes and Steps beginning in September. Union attorney Robert Bloch explained an "unfair labor practice" strike and reminded the members of the House of Delegates that the union's contracts have included Lanes (for degrees up to doctorates) and Steps (for experience) since 1967. He noted that this administration was the first to refuse to pay the lanes and steps during extended negotiations. (On at least four previous occasions, the CTU continued negotiating after a contract expired, and both sides agreed that nothing would be changed; the Claypool administration has become the first to take away a major pice of the existing contract while negotiations continue).

The overriding reason for the one-day strike, according to the officers and many who spoke in support, is that Illinois needs to have new, better sources of funding for education and other public services. Many people noted that Governor Bruce Rauner is trying to break all public worker unions and, as Karen Lewis noted, Rauner especially hates the CTU.

Many delegates have asked why the union has waited since September to strike, noting that the Board has been manipulating its claims about the size of the "deficit" and the need for cuts and layoffs since Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Claypool as CEO (and a mostly new school board) in July 2015.

Robert Bloch, explained that he could not say 100% that this strike is legal, but he cited a U.S. Supreme Court case from the 1950s, involving private sector unions, that held that the strictures of federal and state labor laws do not apply when there is a work action due to an unfair labor practice (ULP).

According to the latest calculations about timelines for a contract strike say that May 16 is the earliest date the CTU can legally strike. The union officers said that part of the reason for the April 1 date is that the Illinois General Assembly will be reconvening in Springfield on April 4, and, according to the union's officers, the April 1 action will put pressure on members of the Illinois House and Senate to act on new funding sources.

Currently, the union's supporters in Springfield do not have bills in the House or Senate for the various sources of "increased revenue" being discussed by CTU, this year and for the past several years. The union's leaders have also failed to get bills before the General Assembly that would restore complete bargaining rights for the Chicago Teachers Union. Since the passage of the Amendatory Act in 1995, CTU has been barred from bargaining on a number of important items, including class size and seniority protections for rehiring eliminated staff.

Whether the union leadership will have legislative language introduced on these issues when the General Assembly re-convenes April 4 remains to be seen. To date, the only major union agenda item that is in the form of a bill is for the Elected School Board Chicago. That has passed the Illinois House and is currently being stalled in the Senate. Locally, Chicago aldermen have been supporting redirecting TIF dollars to the schools, but Mayor Emanuel has so far thwarted that process from moving dollars to the Board of Education.

Currently, Chicago property tax revenues are being deposited into CPS accounts. Property tax collections are put into the school system's treasury in August and March of each year. This year, as they have done for more than two decades, CPS officials have underestimated revenues and overestimated expenses, creating a so-called "deficit" that shrinks as reporters and others (including this reporter) demand actual figures, rather than projections and estimates.



Chicago Teachers Union Overwhelmingly Votes To Strike April 1

By Joe Ward | March 23, 2016 7:05pm | Updated on March 23, 2016 8:20pm

A key committee of the Chicago Teachers Union voted Wednesday to go on a one-day strike for an April 1 A key committee of the Chicago Teachers Union voted Wednesday to go on a one-day strike for an April 1 "Day of Action." The union's House of Delegates were meeting Wednesday night at the International Operating Engineers Hall, 2260 S. Grove St. View Full

Teachers will be walking off the job Friday, April 1 for a "day of action" the Chicago Teachers Union hopes will help pressure the city and state to properly fund the school system.

After months of threatening the action, the union's House of Delegates took the vote during a meeting Wednesday night at the International Operating Engineers Hall, 2260 S. Grove St. The union voted to authorize the strike with 486 votes, said Union President Karen Lewis.

Another 124 members voted against the day of action, but only because they thought an officials strike should be organized immediately, Lewis said.

"The labor conditions have gotten to a point where they are not tolerable," Lewis said at a news conference following the vote.

Whereas the union has traditionally clashed with Mayor Rahm Emanuel over issues of funding and school closures, this time the teachers are putting Gov. Bruce Rauner within their cross hairs.

The action is needed because the budget impasse and political stalemate in the General Assembly have led to unfair working conditions for teachers in Chicago Public Schools.

The lack of a state budget has placed tremendous financial burden on the school system. Teachers already have been asked to take three furlough days so the district can save $30 million, with the first furlough day scheduled for Friday.

"We are dying the death by 1,000 cuts," Lewis said. "We cannot go on like this ... We need Gov. Rauner to get a budget passed."

CPS Chief Executive Officer Forrest Claypool said in a statement that students would be better served if the union and the district were had a united front against Rauner. He said CPS will be help families make daycare arrangements for April 1.

"We're particularly disappointed that the CTU leadership has given Governor Rauner more ammunition in his misguided attempt to bankrupt and take over Chicago Public Schools," Claypool said.

Johnae Strong is a CTU member but not a teacher. She said the school closures, budget cuts and political stalemate have hurt minority kids the worst.

"Black and brown children on the south and west sides are baring the blunt of this trauma," she said. "It is time for Gov. Rauner to be held accountable and put money where the community needs it."

The action comes after Lewis had left Chicago Public Schools officials and parents flummoxed and confounded by what was planned whether it would be a "showdown" or simply an orchestrated effort to "shut it down" on April 1. At one point it even appeared the union was calling for a general strike by asking other Chicago residents to skip work.

The union issued a news release Tuesday saying it's "part of a larger coalition of labor, student groups, community-based organizations and activists who have vowed to 'shut down' Chicagos 'business as usual' politics by staging a variety of non-violent actions throughout the city."

Other educators throughout the state will be standing in solidarity with Chicago teachers on April 1, said Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

He said the action is needed because education throughout the state is in a crisis due to the lack of a budget. Staff at Chicago State University and also Eastern Illinois University have already received layoff notices for this year due to their institutions running out of operating funds.

As CPS and the union continue to pursue talks on a new contract, relations between the two sides have been strained since Claypool threatened 5,000 layoffs late last year, at which point the union told teachers to start saving for a strike.

The union rejected a possible deal in February, immediately followed by CPS declaring $100 million in school cuts, which the union called an "act of war."

The union and CPS is set to meet for another round of contract negotiations Thursday, Lewis said.

The district has not yet followed through on threats to force teachers to pay a 7 percent pension contribution it has previously picked up a cut in take-home pay teachers said would be a violation of the contract they're currently working under.

Union members are not allowed to authorize a full-scale strike due to state statutes that require a fact-finding mission to be completed before such action, Lewis said. The fact-finding is still ongoing, she said.

Because of that, CPS has countered that any walkout before that would be "illegal." But Lewis said the union disagrees with that line of thinking.

"We have our lawyers and they have theirs," she said.



March 24, 2016 at 10:35 AM

By: Jean Schwab

April 1

I was at the CTU meeting and was struck by the teachers' anger that the one day strike was not longer. Many delegates felt a longer strike would make more of an impression. I was touched by John Miller's statement that more suffering will be caused if we don't unite and stand up for unions, social services (that have been cut) and cuts to colleges and schools even if it is for one day. I agreed with him that we need to make our voices heard now-enough talking-do something. Lewis did state that in May we could then make our point. As a grandmother, I would rather have the one day strike now and then if the situation continues to get worse, a longer strike later. Doing nothing is not a good alternative.

March 24, 2016 at 12:18 PM

By: Sharon Schmidt

1-day strike

Our CTU members still want to know why.

Student report with lots of photos (of Feb. 17 walk in and Sept. 2012 strike) on

March 24, 2016 at 8:01 PM

By: George Cruz

April 1st D-Day

The big picture of the 1day strike is so that Board gets a preview as to what can happen if a fair contract isn't reached on time. Hopefully a 1 day sacrifice will be all that's needed in order to force the powers to be like the mayor and governor to support funding education at appropriate levels.

If the Board is truly broke why haven't they eliminated the entire Network bueracracy which by the way is one of the largest in the nation for a school system our size? Why haven't they cut further at Central Office? Why haven't they renegotiated all those high priced vendor contracts? Why haven't they cut back on the longer day and school year if they truly can't afford it ? Why haven't they turned over 100% of TIFS instead of sidelining the bill in finance committee thus killing any hope? Why haven't they passed a dedicated tax levy to fund pensions ? What did the Board do with the billions of dollars in give backs by the CTU in last contract? What did they do with the hundreds of millions of dollars in supposed savings from the 50 school closings? What did they do with the savings from freezing the steps and lanes this year? Why hasn't the city used part of its $900 million dollar credit line to help CPS this year? Why haven't they frozen charter school expansion and actually begin reducing its footprint within Chicago? I mean afterall does CPS stand for Charter Private Schools or Chicago Public Schools?

The powers to be basically wanted to elimate the pension pickup , freeze steps and raises, ram down a 3 day furlough day, drive teachers crazy with REACH evaluations, and continued intimidation and honestly didn't expect the CTU to do anything in response?

March 25, 2016 at 12:59 PM

By: Manny Bermudez

April 1st one day strike

Many teachers are concerned about taking one day, without pay on April 1st. I took a whole year without pay. The truth is that CPS will never stop bullying us because we are not united, and unity is power. To think that CPS is going to discontinue bullying us is not being realistic. First it is furlough days, the day of tomorrow it will be more of our benefits as you have already witnessed. I can promise you it will never end unless we stand together.

Manny Bermudez

March 25, 2016 at 7:23 PM

By: Edward F Hershey

Agree With Manny

Just that -- he said it.

March 26, 2016 at 1:40 PM

By: Edward F Hershey

Claypool's Hypocrisy on Front Page of Tribune

"We ask that if parents have another option, that they exercise that option," Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson told reporters. "However, we know that it's our responsibility to make sure there is a place that provides a safe and orderly environment."

CPS makes plans for teacher walkout

School buildings will be open to accommodate students next week when Chicago teachers go on strike for a day.

**While making plans for April 1, the district has offered students no alternatives for Friday, when schools will be closed because of a CPS-ordered furlough day. Asked why that was, Claypool did not answer directly.**

"We knew we were not in a position to keep the schools open and operating that day with normal learning," Claypool said.

Friday is one of three furlough days ordered by the district in early March in an effort to save money. The union was quick to denounce the unpaid days off, and the furloughs sparked the union's initial calls for a walkout.

March 26, 2016 at 1:43 PM

By: Edward F Hershey

Claypool Hypocrisy: Sun Times Version

“Our priority is obviously the safety of the kids and being able to provide them with food and engagement, so frankly, we’ll spend what it takes to do that,” Claypool said.

However, no plans were made for the unpaid furlough day CPS recently scheduled for Friday, which Claypool again defended, saying it would save the district money on a day when 8,000 teachers asked to be off for the Good Friday religious holiday.

March 26, 2016 at 3:49 PM

By: George Schmidt

Claypool's 'security' -- at central office, not for the schools...

The safety of children in and around Chicago's schools is one of many low priorities for Forrest Claypool, Janice Jackson, and the most recent expensive mostly crony crew of executives at CPS. Security for the schools, which has to be separate from other activities, has been reduced across the city since Rahm Emanuel took over in 2011. There have been a number of break ins and trashings at Whitney Young Magnet High School since school began, for example. Why? CPS hasn't provided the schools with enough security, while making sure that there is about a one to four ratio of citizens to security people (and propagandists, called "communications") for every Board of Education meeting. Without security during the school day and at least one watchman or women every night, the schools are in danger. During the day the danger is to students, as well as property. At night, property (and programs) are in danger from "vandalism." Claypool and his cronies tap into the CPS budger at about $5 million in new bureaucrats since July, when Claypool took over. The hypocritical talking points about safety for the children are just examples, for a lesson plan, of how corrupt this leadership bunch is...

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