Salary analysis shows how much CTU members lost under the latest contracts...Nick Lang’s Members First April 26 CTU salary slide presentation: How the 2012 and 2016 contracts diminish our pay over time...

Before the group began officially calling itself Members First, meetings of concerned Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) members were held during the 2016-2017 school year to discuss and analyze how badly the members were faring under the latest CTU contracts. Since the CORE (Caucus Of Rank and file Educators) took over the CTU leadership in July 2010, CTU has had two contracts, so a comparison is now possible. The union agreed to a contract following the seven-day September 2012 strike, and agreed to a a second contract in October 2016 following more than a year of contract extensions, but no strike.

The concerns might be summarized by an underlying “tiredness” with an apparent energy and focus of CTU on non-union related issues (or not directly so) when union members themselves face so many serious union-related issues on a daily basis in the work environment(s) of CPS. These issues include, but are not limited to: furlough days; Kronos self-service; loss of school clerks; filthy schools/Aramark; bullying/intimidation by principals; REACH evaluations; charter schools; privatization of clinicians; salary; benefits; PAC money; handling of grievances; etc.

Energy and focus on non-union related issues also connects with concerns about the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation. Members First leaders are obviously not anti-union, but they are also NOT expressly “against” current union leadership. They, and others, are CTU members who are concerned with what the union should be “for” and have questions and concerns about the direction of CTU.

During a meeting at Connie’s Pizza that I attended on April 26, 2017, Lane Tech High School biology teacher Nick Lang shared a slide presentation of his analysis showing how CTU members’ salaries were negatively impacted with the 2012 as well as 2016 contracts.

These contracts were negotiated by CTU leadership from the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE). Although the contracts were later ratified by the full CTU membership, serious questions were raised during discussion of both contracts, and as of the summer of 2017 union members still do not have the official "contract book" for the current contract (which runs from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2018).

As Nick states in the audio that accompanies his analysis: “I believe that many teachers would be shocked to learn the truth, which is that beginning with the 2012 contract the value of many steps has gone down.”

The presentation is a MUST-SEE for CTU members. Though a Substance summary here follows, individual readers are encouraged to view/listen for themselves by going to: YouTube Video Search Find Videos of Anything – iTools. Type in: Members’ First April 26 Salary Presentation. [Reporter’s Note: This was the only way that I was able to access the youtube presentation otherwise officially linked as:]

Nick begins by stating that some CTU members already know what he is presenting re salary analysis; however, others might only sense that something is wrong but do not have an exact awareness of exactly what that is.

Nick describes what he believes should be two basic principles of unionized labor: 1) workers doing equivalent work should receive equivalent pay; and 2) the purchasing power of pay should not diminish over time.

Unfortunately, he presents data showing that beginning with the 2012 contract, CTU members’ salaries were reset in ways that follow neither of these principles. Nick, himself, was particularly hard hit on his particular salary step and lane. If one simply looks at a current contract salary schedule, pay is seen to increase over time due to the single year manner of display. Nick utilizes previous as well as current contract salary schedules to demonstrate how the value of CTU members’ pay regarding career or lifetime earnings changes over time; for most this does not increase over time, and, in fact, has diminished.

One cause that is given for the decrease over time is a change in the way CoLAs (cost of living adjustments) were applied starting in 2012. After 2012, CoLAs were no longer applied to step raises. The Board also changed the value of the step raises. Due to this, most step increases fell, at an average loss of over $325. Thus, most CTU members after 2012 began moving up steps while making less than their predecessors at the same steps, with this decreased worth then continuing to be compounded over time.

One example from a chart in a slide presentation: In 2012, Lane 1, Step 3 salary was $52,337. The next year, that employee’s salary increased to $54,599. However, in 2013, Lane 1, Step 3 salary was $51,735. And the next year that second employee’s salary was $53,984. Equivalent experiences, but not equivalent pay. It is at this point in the presentation that Nick presents a graphic of a CTU member/CPS employee climbing a ladder that is sinking into quicksand. One’s salary is going up compared to one’s own previous salary, but one’s salary becomes compoundingly less than the salaries of those who were on the same steps previously. Another example: An employee hired in 2011, moving through Steps 2 through 8, is making close to $15,000 less over time that employees previously moving through the same steps. A Career Tiers chart demonstrates this “less over time” salary reset projected 35 years ahead for an employee hired in 2012 moving through Steps 4-7. The newly-hired CTU member/CPS employee will earn approximately: $109,000 less than someone hired in 2007; $123,000 less than someone hired in 2002; $146,000 less someone hired in 1997; and $113,000 less compared to 1992.

Nick explains that future CoLAs might offset the projections. However, CoLAs are not meant for the recovery of lost career value of salary. CoLAs are meant to offset inflation.

The 2012 contract fractured/reset Steps 14 (a-f) through 15 (a-e). Due to having no raises other than CoLAs, and some years without CoLAs, as well as the dropping of step increases for Steps 11-13 in 2012, and with these numbers compounding over time into each next step, some of the pay discrepancies are as high as $2300 for equivalent experience over time. Other calculations project discrepancies at Step 14 of over $6500. Without CoLAs, veteran teachers experiencing the Board’s apparent changing of pay values from Step 15e as opposed, and as had been done previously, to Step 16 could experience a loss over time of $10,000 without CoLAs (see previous comment re purpose of CoLAs). Pensions will be lower due to the compounded situation over time, for those not retiring before lower numbers become the ones taken into consideration for pension calculation (average of salary from top four consecutive years from employee’s last 10 years).

Here’s what Nick Lang states in summary:

1) The 2012 contract caused the value of most steps to fall;

2) These changes were not spread evenly;

3) Every union member is eventually affected (older teachers if they do not retire before projected impacts);

4) CoLAs might improve the situation(s), but salary recovery is not the purpose of CoLAs.

NEW: In closing, Nick thanks everyone and acknowledges that the presentation might be hard to follow (read: math) However, this reporter highly recommends for readers to view the charts and graphs in the presentation to truly visualize so much much more than is reported with the above examples. At the end, Nick asks that CTU members please share the video and initiate conversations among members. Nick is a member of the CTU group calling themselves Members First.


July 26, 2017 at 9:42 AM

By: Jo-Anne cairo

Members first

When CORE first started they were for the CTU members, but the recognition they received from the Media and Politicians and others they have lost their focus for their members. Every time I received my paycheck stub It was always lower,

it is appreciated that Members First is presenting this to others

so other CTU members understand why they are being short changed from CPS/ CTU.

It's sad that when you trust others, they take advantage of you to profit for themselves.

August 7, 2017 at 8:45 PM

By: Ed Hershey

Low Key Concession

This was presented to us in 2012 -- leadership told us they were re-arranging the step schedule. I recall the rationale given was to try to retain more mid-career people (steps 4-9).

Obviously, we now understand that this was a concession -- one that will cost members thousands over the course of their careers.

But at the time (2012), no alarms were raised around this, not that I recall anyway. There were people who had issues with the 2012 contract and the end to the strike, but this wasn't one of them.

It was only this year, when dozens of delegates (including myself) had to field questions from confused members about their pay, that it finally dawned on us that this also was a concession, and a big one.

I should have known better at the time, But I didn't think it through. I'm also surprised I didn't hear it from others back then. There are certainly more senior people, with stronger union habits of mind, than myself in the union -- many of them are contributors to this website/news service.

August 24, 2017 at 12:44 AM

By: Susan Zupan


Ed, didn't the greatest responsibility for sharing the information much more clearly with the membership on such concession(s) fall on union leadership as well as the big bargaining team?

I remain deeply concerned that to this day we do not have an official hard copy of our contract in our hands.

I hope this serves as a lesson for union membership to "read the fine print" (and understand it as well) before signing (voting for) any contract.

August 24, 2017 at 10:38 AM

By: Ed Hershey

You're right

You're right that this wasn't negotiated by us.

And yes, we absolutely should have the contract.

And the language still being up in the air nearly a full year after the contract was voted is bizarre to say the least.

August 25, 2017 at 4:36 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Bizarre a synonym for SELLOUT?

Let's call a spade a spade -- or to use contemporary jargon (and part of the original CORE statements of principal), "transparency" for what it should be. The Columbus Day quickie was a sellout, based, I'm waiting to hear the facts at some point, on the notion that Hillary Clinton was going to "win" the November election and us Hillary supporters didn't want to muck things up with another Chicago strike, etc. etc. etc. For all the Ivy League obfuscations and outright lies from the current leadership, this contract was the first in CTU history that was railroaded through a membership referendum (after that quickie HOD vote orchestrated by the leaders of CORE -- the call to end debate while dozens of questions remained) without a real complete presentation of what was actually in the contract! So now, almost a year later, the union's President and Vice President are still getting away with explaining the delay in the contract books because the Boss is going over the language. For more than 40 years, we knew the language because that's what we had voted on. There was not second guessing by the Boss. And so... the sellout is the sellout is the "bizarre." I suspect at this point that the only reason the CORE/CTU leaderships are stalling on printing the books is that the bad news will become more and more clear to all the members when they can read all the bad news in black and white, both in the salary schedules and in the weasel language in the important working conditions sections.

August 28, 2017 at 12:59 PM

By: Rodney Estvan

Nick Lang's analysis of the steps is consistent with the reality of CPS

The situation is that the Chicago Teachers Union has argued that CPS is broke on purpose, but none the less its broke. The proposed CPS FY 18 budget uses money CPS does not have in hand from the State, also money from the City of Chicago it does not have in hand.

Even with all of this money booked which does not yet exist CPS is not whole. If Substance readers go to page 188 of the CPS budget book you can see that even with these funds added to the budget the district is running a cash deficit. By March 2018 CPS projects it will have a cash flow deficit of $1.2 million even with the funny money.

That means that some CTU members checks come March will only be paid due CPS' short term line of credit. The situation is so confused that Access Living did not release its budget review prior to the Board vote on its FY 18 budget today. We are waiting to see actual language in the form of bills coming out of Springfield.

The Civic Federation did release a budget report and is recommending possible liquidation of CPS as a separate legal entity from the City, or a restoration of the Chicago School Finance Authority oversight of CPS. The truth is many highly qualified teachers who are not close to retirement have bailed out of CPS due to this uncertainty. Even the CPS CFO today admitted his office is having difficulty hiring staff due to the perception of going to work for an effectively tapped out school district. (At the CPS Finance Audit Committee subcommittee meeting this morning.)

Nick Lang's analysis is probably correct and it reflects the lack of bargaining power the CTU has right now due to the fiscal collapse of CPS. A collapse also in part generated by bad SWAP deals, sweet heart contracts, charter school expenses, and on and on. Issues that Substance has covered for many years.

It would take a protracted strike by CTU to reverse the payment situation for CPS teachers and other staff, there is no indication the members are willing to risk everything on a protracted strike once this contract has expired. That is the situation.

Rod Estvan

Education policy analyst

Access Living of Chicago

August 28, 2017 at 5:39 PM

By: Bob Busch

SB 1947 and its 5 admendments

Would someone please tell me what this means:(105 ILCS 5/2-3.170 new)

Sec. 2-3.170. Property tax relief pool grants.

(a) As used in this Section,

"Property tax multiplier" equals one minus the square of

the school district's Local Capacity Percentage, as defined in

Section 18-8.15 of this Code.

That is only one mystery in the 550 page bill that was introduced in Springfield today.What is spelled out in black and white are some nasty surprises for Illinois Teachers.I would not like to be a suburban or down state drivers ed. teacher.

August 28, 2017 at 10:06 PM

By: Rod Estvan

Revenue insufficient to fund SB 1497

Given the scope of the bill, back debts owed by the state, it appears the state will be short around $2.3 billion. How that will be worked out is beyond my understanding. I am still reading the bill and we can all be sure it was not read by those voting on it tonight.

Rod Estvan

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