Worst contract in CTU history? Consider the actual numbers of teacher salaries since the beginning of the 21st Century...

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis discussed the upcoming strike with reporters following the October 5, 2016 meeting of the CTU House of Delegates. A last minute deal accepted by Lewis and her team goes before an October 19 meeting of the House of Delegates following the end of the strike threat on October 11. If the HOD recommends a "Yes" vote on the proposed deal, it goes to a referendum of the union's active duty members. Substance photo by Jean Schwab.Rather than continue a debate over appropriate adjectives (one that has been going on in social media as some people who voted in favor of the deal expressed "hurt feelings" when their decision was challenged), let's try some 21st Century facts. Having reviewed all of the CTU contracts since the beginning (which are also in the possession of the CTU leadership, at the union office I once worked in research until being purged), I have been saying that this is the worst contract in CTU history. And I am including in that the contracts we had to do during and after the "school financial crisis" of 1979 - 1982. But let's just provide readers with the information ("data" is you wish) covering Chicago teacher salaries since the beginning of the 21st Century. A large number of Chicago teachers working today began their careers during the present century, so it's as good a timeline of information as any.

Following here are the teacher salaries (minimum and maximum) and percentage increases over the previous year since FY 2002, according to the CPS Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The CPS fiscal year begins on July 1 at midnight and ends on June 30, so "FY 2002" (below) is from 2001 to 2002. For those who want to check further, additional CAFR information has still be on line from CPS as of October 12, 2016.

Please note that the first "zero percent raise" in the 21st Century came after the CTU leadership agreed to end all Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) complaints against the Board of Education as part of the deal that ended the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 in September 2012.

Fiscal Year Min. Salary Median Max. % Change

2002 $33,861 $47,647 $61,433 2.00%

2003 $34,538 $48,907 $63,276 2.00%

2004 $35,920 $50,864 $65,807 4.00%

2005 $37,357 $52,898 $68,439 4.00%

2006 $38,851 $55,014 $71,177 4.00%

2007 $40,405 $57,215 $74,025 4.00%

2008 $42,021 $59,504 $76,986 4.00%

2009 $43,702 $62,384 $81,065 4.00%

2010 $45,450 $64,879 $84,308 4.00%

2011 $47,268 $67,974 $88,680 4.00%

2012 $47,268 $67,974 $88,680 0.00%

2013 $48,686 $70,644 $92,602 3.00%

2014 $49,660 $72,163 $94,666 2.00%

2015 $50,653 $73,706 $96,759 2.00%

Next, please consider the percentage raises in each year of the proposed contract, which ended the threat of a strike scheduled to begin on October 11, 2016 (information about minimum, maximum and median salaries were not available when these numbers were compiled, based on the eight-page CTU PDF provided at the time the strike was cancelled.

2016 (July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016 0.00*

2017 (July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017 0.00*

2018 (July 1, 2017 - June 30, 2018 2.00*

2019 (July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019 2.50*

* based in information provided by the CTU in the eight-page PDF summary of the agreement distributed on October 11, 2016.

With this information provided, it becomes clear as a picture that the six "worst" years for teacher raises during the 21st Century in Chicago have some since 2010, when the current union leadership took office. The CORE caucus (of which I am a member, as well as a founding member and for five years a member of the caucus's steering committee) took office on July 1, 2010 having defeated the "New UPC" (headed by Marilyn Stewart) in the May-June 2010 elections.

One of those worst years, FY 2012, saw the union surrender a contractual four percent raise rather than continue to fight against the CPS claim that the Board of Education could not "reasonably assume" it would have the money during FY 2012 to pay for it. (Disclosure: I was a research consultant for the CTU at the time and appeared at the first grievance hearing challenging the Board's refusal to pay the four percent, which had been negotiated in the final contract signed by the previous union leadership. We were not told that part of the deal that ended the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 was to give up that grievance -- which would have led to a ULP -- until I asked what happened to the grievance, which was worth thousands of dollars for every CTU member!).

During the discussion that led to the members' acceptance of the proposed agreement following the suspension of picketing in September 2012, much was made of the "non monetary" victories the union had supposedly achieved. Among these were a contract provision against "bullying" (by principals) and a contract provision to "reduce paperwork." By 2015, it was clear the both of those victories were questionable in most schools -- if not a joke.

Similar claims are being made for some of the provisions of the proposed contract that is now going to be debated at the union's House of Delegates (October 19) and then if the HOD votes to recommend that proposed contract to the membership for a referendum.

This year, all teacher members of the CTU (including low-paid substitute teachers) are paying more than $1,100 per year in union dues.

Traditionally, the two legal duties of a union in the USA to its members are:

-- Negotiate a strong contract.

-- Enforce that contract vigorously on behalf of all the union's members.

Any other objectives the union or its leadership may also have are not legal obligations to the dues-paying members, but choices made by the leadership (sometimes in consultation with the members; recently less so). These include defining a CTU strike as a strike for "better schools." During virtually all previous strikes, the union proclaimed that it was on strike for a contract. Some teachers produced signs proposing other reasons, but the main reason for each strike was to win a stronger contract.

And the best way to measure the success of a contract for all the union's members is by how it improves their pay, benefits, and working conditions.


Late in the afternoon of October 12, 2016, the CTU sent out the following clarification about what the House of Delegates vote will mean. Basically, the HOD will make a recommendation to the membership. Only a membership vote determines whether a contract has been ratified.

Be advised,

This is to provide accurate information regarding the CTU contract ratification process. Here is the actual constitutional language regarding the process in ratifying a labor agreement with the Chicago Board of Education. An earlier advisory, issued by the Communications Department, indicated that the House of Delegates had to recommend whether to send the tentative agreement to the full membership. However, according to the CTU Constitution, the agreement goes to the full membership regardless of what is recommended by the House. Please excuse any error or confusion this may have caused and here is the corrected language:

CTU Constitution says:



Sec. 1: Authority Subject to the final authority of the membership, the general governing body of the Union shall be a House of Delegates, the members of which shall be members of the Union in good standing, elected by vote of their constituent Union members.

Each member of the House of Delegates shall have full voting privileges (except as provided for in Article VI Sec. 2b), except members representing retired members shall not vote on the authorization of a strike or the acceptance or the rejecting of a partial or final collective bargaining agreement.

Action by the House to authorize a strike or accept or reject a partial or final collective bargaining agreement shall be advisory only and in both instances shall be subject to a final, direct vote of the regular members.

The House of Delegates shall determine the actual date of the strike.

The manner of such voting shall be set by the House except that the House may never authorize indirect voting.


October 12, 2016 at 2:26 PM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

Leaders w/ no stomach for strike or contract?

Both in 2012 and now in 2016, the present CTU leadership showed itself to have no stomach for hammering out a strong contract for teachers and staff. This time there was no stomach for a strike either, not even one with a sudden cave-in like in the last foreshortened strike. What was known, I wonder, about how well the members at schools were organized for a strike? Also: I'd like to read an explication about how much we actually give up when we agree to "end all Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) complaints," an item included in both the 2012 contract and this tentative one. Another question: Shouldn't some of these last 6 years have a minus some percentage change instead of zero when teacher had to work a longer day and year?

October 13, 2016 at 8:09 AM

By: George Cruz

13 reasons for voting 'No' at the House of Delegates meeting

Here are the first 13 reasons for voting against the 'Tentative Agreement' at the October 19 House of Delegates meeting.

House Delegates Needs Vote Down TA!

1. CPS is counting on 1500 teachers to take the early retirement option. This would cause many experienced teachers to leave the system . Will these positions be replaced or closed out, thus causing classroom size increases ? Secondly , if these positions are replaced with new hires , most likely they will be hired after Jan 1, 2017 and be responsible for their own pension pickup. This could cause a divide within the union between older veteran teachers versus the rookies. If you think about it CPS is counting on 1500 retires . By the time the contract expires in 2019, there will be thousands of new hires (after 2017) to replace the retires and this large group will feel alienated by having a different compensation and benefits , which could cause a rift in our union. It's CPS divide and conquer strategy

2. The contract is asking for an increase in our healthcare benefits of .08%. Basically, higher copays, deductibles , emergency room fees, higher prescription cost. All this equals a pay cut. Not to mention they are eliminating the more Cadillac expensive hmo plan and keeping the cheaper one, thus reducing choices.

3. There are no retroactive pay raises for this year and last year . Teachers took a pay cut last year with the furlough days. According to my memory every year teachers got a raise besides the one Rahm stole from in 2012. Educators worked hard and should be properly compensated for those lost years. In addition, there are no new steps included . What about teachers who are approaching their max steps, and have to wait 5 years before they get another raise. Lastly , the compensation of raises 2% and 2.5% is an insult to members . They are working 20% longer days and a longer school year with zero compensation basically for free.

4. They are only offering 2 duty free morning preps out of an entire week .

5. There are no real changes to the dreaded evaluation system . They modified value added. They changed the number of evaluations from 4 to 3. You can't even appeal if your on the upper developing category which is unfair . But if your in the lower developing category you can . THE CTU NEVER BOTHERED TO CHANGE THE CUT SCORES AND LOWER THEM! I'm in total shock about that one. There was 25,000 people ready to walk out. If the CTU had told CPS drop the scores by 5-10 points of coarse they would've agreed in order to avoid a strike. The CTU dropped the ball big time and they still kept some form of the two developing rule! This is a big deal, since older teachers are more expensive , plus CPS pays for their pension pickup. Administrators will feel pressured to get rid of older teachers for cost saving measures using REACH as the Trojan horse to get rid of them as a result of student based budgeting .

6. CPS eliminated the no lay off provision in this contract version. There is no word on how much this contract cost . If Springfield doesn't come thru with the $215 million in pension relief money due in January , that will screw CPS budget this year , resulting in thousands of teachers layoff to pay for the contract and budget ! That's why CPS took out that no layoff provision because they knew layoffs and cuts are coming!

7. CPS took out the no bankruptcy provision as well. Still it brings peace of mind if it was reinstated as was included in the January 29-2016 contract version. CPS is taking on massive debt at high interest bonds. It's better to be safe than sorry .

8. There is no contractual language mentioned of a dedicated specific dollar amount for TIF funding to be directed to CPS each year in order to stabilize the school district . How else are they going to pay for this contract ?

9. There is no real increase in hiring librarians , social workers , nurses etc to help our students . Students have tremendous needs for such services . The CTU made a big deal about this and now these people have been forgotten ?

10. There is no contractual language to prevent CPS from hitting teachers with future furlough days when they feel like it as done last year ! This is a precautionary measure to ensure compensation is steady.

11. No contractual language on eliminating the 20th day rule provision that causes hundreds of teachers to lose their jobs as a result in drop in enrollment . There has to be a better way than cutting teachers and support personal in the beginning of each school year .

12. PSRP lose their pension pickup if hired back in January of 2016!!! That's a pay cut!

13. PSRP lost their $250 bonuses each year. Another pay cut for them.

October 13, 2016 at 7:53 PM

By: jcairo

George Cruz

Thank you for your 13, hopefully it will assist those who don't understand the tentative contract. You explained it that makes sense.

October 14, 2016 at 1:37 AM

By: David R. Stone

Two-tier contract

George Cruz points out many weaknesses in the tentative agreement, including a potential rift between new hires and older workers with more generous pension packages. Yet the difference in pensions was already in place under the old contract.

The new contract moves most of the "pension pick-up" for new hires to a different line on the pay stub. Some of what long-time employees receive as "pension pick-up" will be paid to new hires as "salary" -- but the total amount of compensation is not changed by this accountant's gimmick. If anything, this may in small measure help new hires make up some of the pension they lose by being eligible for only Tier 2 pension benefits. If their pension is calculated as a percentage of salary rather than a percentage of total compensation, moving some funds to the "salary" line will boost their pension, if they can stay employed at CPS long enough to collect a pension.

-David R. Stone

October 14, 2016 at 11:45 AM

By: Rod Estvan

Can there really be a multi year contract

Since I have not been a CTU member for many years I have no skin in this game. I also years ago pulled most of my money from the pension fund. But of all the criticisms of the proposed contract none seem to recognize that any multi year deal with CPS is really no longer possible given fiscal situation of CPS and the hostility of the majority of the Illinois General Assembly (inclusive of non-Chicago Democrats) to CPS bailouts. Why continue with this fiction?

October 14, 2016 at 2:19 PM

By: George Schmidt

Why go to 2019? Multi-year contracts and Franczek's power over negotiations...

One of the many unanswered questions for the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union as they try Monday night at their "Tele Town Hall" to mesmerize the union's members with their bullshit will be why they are asking the union's members to sign on to a four-year contract when in fact a two-year deal would bring reality back by the finish line of the next session of the Illinois General Assembly. The only "reason" I've heard is basically that the members of the Big Bargaining Team (and of course the union lawyers and officers at the Big Table) were (as has happened in the past) caught in a Stockholm Syndrome. Held hostage to the final hour by the Board's multi-million dollar team of outside lawyers (I'll do a tribute to Jim Franczek's value to the ruling class in a future Substance article), the WE HAVE TO DO ANYTHING BEFORE THE STRIKE!!! EEEK!!! faction won. At least until the House of Delegate members and the oft-cited but-always-now-ignored "rank and file" get to vote.

Of course it made more sense to reject a multi-year contract. As I've reported, from part of that history the CTU leadership wants to erase, the union has entered into contracts as brief as six months and as lengthy as five years. This was a time when the contract should have been no longer than two years, meaning it would have expired on June 30, 2017. Part of the sellout is that the leadership is locking the membership (if this deal gets a "Yes" vote) into these horrors until June 30, 2019. And the leadership will have no real justification (in "rank and file" terms) for this cage around members' rights -- except to ladle words upon words and more verbiage than the spirit can bear "explaining" all this stuff...

October 14, 2016 at 4:09 PM

By: Rod Estvan

yet another problem with multi-year deals with CPS

Whether CPS is broke on purpose or not is something we all can argue about, or whether or not TIF funding will always come to the rescue [please note that city budget director Alexandra Holt is quoted in the Bond Buyer yesterday as basically saying surplus TIF would be exist for 10 years assuming no mass real estate collapse], or if the State of Illinois will actually pick $200 million or so of CPS pension.

obligations each year for the next four years, or if at some point the banks will pull the billion plus line of credit from CPS it uses now as its reserve.

We can argue all these possibilities, but if any of them come to pass then we have the school code to deal with. Specifically this passage, which George and have talked about several times over the years: "No contract shall be made or expense or liability incurred by the board, or any member or committee thereof, or by any person for or in its behalf, notwithstanding the expenditure may have been ordered by the board, unless an appropriation therefor has been previously made. Neither the board, nor any member or committee, officer, head of any department or bureau, or employee thereof shall during a fiscal year expend or contract to be expended any money, or incur any liability, or enter into any contract which by its terms involves the expenditure of money for any of the purposes for which provision is made in the budget, in excess of the amounts appropriated in the budget. Any contract, verbal or written, made in violation of this Section is void as to the board, and no moneys belonging thereto shall be paid thereon.” 105 ILCS 5/34-49

October 15, 2016 at 10:29 AM

By: George Cruz

Analysis of Lewis Sell Out

When you have the union leadership come out and admit that this is not the best contract... that speaks volumes !!! Let's be honest , Lewis health condition affected her willingness to fight for her members . She had no energy nor the will to take up critical issues that were so important to many CTU members. She basically rolled over and called it a day after 25,000 members were ready for a protracted fight to finally address the priorities needed.

October 17, 2016 at 12:40 AM

By: Howard Ehrman


“United We Stand, Divided We Fall”

We have shown the World since 2012 what Unity and Solidarity Look Like !!

We will NOT let Mayor 1% Divide Us !!

Are We Going to Give In to Rahm’s Most Important Demand: End Pension Pick-up?

If we vote yes on the tentative agreement, we vote yes to a divided, weaker union by accepting a 2-tier pension plan: All CTU members hired before January 1, 2017 pay 2% into our pension, the board pays 7%. All hired after pay all 9%, the board pays $0.

We will not be fooled! New members getting a 7% raise next year is not the same as the 7% we get now for our pensions:

1. New members must pay income taxes on their 7% raise. We pay no taxes on the 7% board contribution to our pension

2. Deadly 2-Tier will be established as a precedent-We will not let that happen !!

Next will come a 2-tier salary system and other benefits. With each step our union will grow weaker, more divided. 2-Tier is growing and we must stop it!. Teachers, school staff, public workers, UAW and others all over the U.S. have fought 2-tier for decades. But once 2-tier gets in, it grows and is very hard to get rid of.

End REACH now-put a better evaluation system in this contract: (1) Halt the use of test scores/value added measures (VAM) in evaluations; (2) Include the poverty % and racial make-up of the school & neighborhood (3) Professional development should not be tied to evaluations

REACH pushes Teachers of Color out of education in Chicago & U.S. The 2016 Network for Public Education & U of C Teacher Evaluation Reports document how teachers in high poverty schools get lower evaluations than teachers in lower poverty schools. African American & Latino Teachers are more likely to teach in higher poverty schools. 22% of CPS Teachers are African American now compared to 44% in 1999. The 2014 Teacher Diversity Revisited Report: The Gap between Teachers & Students of Color is growing: students of color are 50% of students, while Teachers of Color are 18% of teachers.

CTU Nurses are also Teachers! Our new contract must hire more CTU Nurses, end Privatization of all nurses and all other wrap around professionals, including hiring more librarians. The tentative agreement has none of this.

We were ready to Strike: Unions, Parents, Communities are on OUR Side:

Mayor 1% is weaker than he was in 2012.

Vote NO and send the negotiating team back to bargain!

October 17, 2016 at 10:21 AM

By: Stephen Edwards

How extensive is the impact of State laws restricting bargaining rights?

Setting aside the discussions over pay for just a moment, I'd like to get some clarifications from people who have followed this for much longer than I have. The messaging for the past year and a half has been about "striking for better schools" but the deal that comes down is mainly not about that, and successive State laws have been designed and intended to prevent the CTU from doing it. See for example, page 11 of this copy of SB19:

That being the case - what, other than the issues of pay, pensions and healthcare, could the union have legally struck over? And if the CTU had struck over some sort of grey area (the impact on teachers' mental health of excessive class sizes, and the lack of SpEd provision come to mind), what legal penalties could have been imposed, and when?

October 18, 2016 at 6:54 AM

By: George Schmidt

Striking for 'Better Schools' is nonsense until state law is changed...

You're right. The CTU can only legally strike for the things that can legally be negotiated into a union contracts. It's always been that way. In the USA, unions negotiate for their members' rights -- not for universal wonderment and other good stuff. For years (until really the current leadership, which I helped invent as a founding member of CORE), the union honestly said that we could negotiate for pay, benefits, and some working conditions. We also stated that until the union won back the bargaining rights that were taken away in 1995, the CTU was barred from negotiating for lower class size -- and contract language to enforce class sizes. This is one of many major ways our union contracts help the students and give Chicago "better schools."

Our caucus has now been in power for six years, and to date the leadership has NOT (yes, it's important to shout that) put legislative language before the Illinois General Assembly so that the CTU could negotiate on all the contract rights that every other union local in Illinois has. Our rights were taken away in 1995.

But we have yet to begin the fight to get those rights back. That fight, as you note, has to be done and won in Springfield. In the meantime, all this "better schools" stuff is empty rhetoric -- or worse, hypocrisy. We get better schools by having lower class sizes, librarians in every school library, nurses and "clinicians" and all those other important things our children (including the two of mine who are still in CPS schools) deserve.

So now start asking why the CTU can get legislative language before the General Assembly for an elected school board -- but not to restore our rights to negotiate everything everyone else in Illinois already can do.

October 23, 2016 at 5:18 AM

By: Renee Krezmer

CTU leaders not to blame for this bad contract...

The contract is crap, but I don't blame our current leadership. The previous leadership never had to deal with Mayor Satan. Also, other teachers all around the area are being shown disrespect in their contracts. I wish all State of Illinois teachers would strike at the same time. This is disgusting, and the minute we didn't strike, Mayor Harm gave his staff raises. I hope we vote down the contract and strike.

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