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House of Delegates votes to suspend strike

In order to vote on the tentative agreement, another special meeting of the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates was called on October 30, 2019. The meeting started about 6:04 p.m. This special meeting was called to update the membership on the tentative agreement (TA) reached between the CTU and the CPS.

I. Officer Reports

A.B. Neither Recording Secretary nor Maria Moreno had an official report.

C. Vice president Stacy Davis Gates gave a summary of the most recent meeting between the CTU and Mayor Lightfoot. Stacy said although it was pointed out that agreeing to a five year contract would be of political assistance to Lightfoot, Lightfoot refused to go along with the push for repeal of the 1994 4.5 Amendatory Act nor for passage of a bill for an elected representative school bard in Chicago, claiming that the agreement should be clear of politics. Stacy then said the Union contacted Gov. Pritzker, Sen. Cullerton, and Rep. Madigan about this and received a tweet indicating their intention to push these laws through the legislative process.

Stacy then responded to inquiries about the class size provision in the TA. As I understand it, the current class size clauses stay in affect but with the following adjustment starting in 2020. When class sizes go over that which is already specified in the Agreement, the teacher must request remediation but if it further goes over a “trigger” number, then remediation would occur automatically. For example, a high school art class is supposedly limited to 31 students as of now. If its enrollment is above that, the teacher may request some remediation. If it goes over 38, then remediation is to take place automatically. Remediation may be by class leveling, a teacher assistant assigned to help out, or establishing a new class. The “caps” and “triggers” vary by grade level and subject, but are the standards that have been in the contracts for years. There will be $35 million set aside for remediation each year of the contract; 5 times what is in the current Agreement. Remediation would go to the schools in most need first.

II. President’s report. Jesse Sharkey stressed that there were no “give backs” in this contract. He said that the 2012 strike was a defensive strike as we ended up with some losses. However, he said that the Big Bargaining Team (BBT), although split, agrees that this TA is the best we can get with many positive gains.

At this point (7:00 p.m.) Jesse presented the Item for Action; to suspend the strike pending agreement with Lightfoot “...to restore with pay student instructional days lost during the strike.”. This should be a no-brainer as she was so adamant against giving up instructional time to allow for teacher prep time in elementary schools. However, that remains to be seen as one speaker described Lightfoot as “vindictive”.

Also, the TA had been put on the CTU Members Portal so many delegates were able to communicate with their co-workers on their smart phones as the meeting progressed

Below are brief comments from delegates either supporting or opposing the strike suspension. Note that I do not always hear the names or schools of delegates but I include them when I can.

-Craig Cleave – opposes the resolution as the amount of money allocated for veteran teachers pay is “unacceptable”. Note: veteran teachers are at the top of the pay scale after 14 years and get no annual increase in pay. The proposed TA would allow them to get some extra money, but one delegate computed it to be about $250 per year.

-Fulton School delegate – opposes it as there is not enough in the TA for elementary schools.

-Alison Eichorn from Lindbloom – opposes it. She is the programmer at her school and she knows she will be told to program regular high school classes for 31 students. This is under the trigger and remediation of class size can only come at the request of the teacher AND can only take place if there is enough money left in the pot after the most needy schools are taken care of first.

-An elementary delegate opposes the TA because the class size caps are not real caps and she was concerned over teacher assistants being shared between different teachers.

-Another elementary teacher opposed it due to the lack of guaranteed prep time in the grammar schools

-Ed Hershey from Lindbloom opposes it because the elementary schools didn’t get needed prep time

-The Prosser High delegate said all of his members voted “No” on the TA because there was no definite printed salary schedule, the vet teachers pay was inadequate, and the $35 million for class size remediation was not nearly enough.

-Carlson School opposed it as its 67 members need the prep time

-Frank McDonald from Washington High opposes it because of the vagueness in the information provided about getting the 4.5 law repealed and in getting an elected school board law passed.

-Chris Burns, a high school teacher, supports elementary prep time.

-Delegate Roberts from Brentano School and a BBT member supports the proposal. She feels “…we have some historic wins here…”. She feels Lightfoot will cancel members’ health insurance if the strike goes to Friday. Jesse responded that if insurance is cut off, then COBRA will kick in. He admitted that it is very expensive but that one doesn’t have to pay for it immediately unless one needs to use it right away. When he said that I glanced at the delegate sitting next to me who was 8-9 months pregnant!

-The Brighton Park delegate said her school is about 50/50

-John Pardo from Phillips said his school is split 50/50 over the class size provision.

-Jim Vail from Hammond School opposes having a 5-year contract.

-Karen Soto of Waters School, a BBT member, supports the proposal. She said “we are creating handholds that will take us closer to the next level”.

-The Ray School delegate said her co-workers were 60% against the proposal and wanted more time to look over it.

-Sarah Chambers, a BBT member, pointed to some of the pluses in the contract; the sick day bank extended from 40 to 244 days, the ending of the Khronos system for punching in and out of school, and that there were 23 improvements affecting Special ed.

-A delegate lauded that we didn’t lose anything and philosophized that we shouldn’t expect to get everything.

-The Hawthorne Academy delegate favored the resolution saying “We can be righteous or we can be effective”. She also was concerned that we would lose public support if we stayed out too long.

-Oscar Ortiz was totally in favor of it.

-The Kennedy High delegate said that 80% of the faculty wants to stay out over veteran teachers’ pay, elementary prep time, and no restrictions on the CPS from closing schools.

-LaShawn Wallace, a Para, and BBT member, supported the resolution as it got very good salary increases for PSRPs.

--Roxanne Gonzalez, one of the 9 CTU members arrested the day before, wanted more time to look over the TA.

-A high school delegate said her faculty was 90% opposed to the TA because of the lack of prep time for elementary teachers, and concerns over weaknesses in the CTE programs that have not been addressed.

-The delegate from Back of the Yards College Prep was concerned that we would not be able to sustain our picketing and our strike much longer.

--The Ravenswood School delegate was strongly opposed to the resolution at the start but admitted she was more open to acceptance although she was unclear over the issue of class size remediation.

At this point, Emily Paine, a social worker delegate, called the question, i.e., end debate and then vote on the matter. I voted against her as I always believe that people should have a chance to have there say. My brother, Retiree Delegate Larry Milkowski, voted to support Paine’s motion. He didn’t feel that anything new would be added to the discussion. The motion carried.

As a Retiree delegate I am not allowed to vote on a strike matter but I would have voted to continue the strike. However, the House voted to accept the resolution, 364-242, with 4 abstentions.

Jesse said that ratification of the TA will come within ten days after the strike stops with regional meetings to inform members of the TA’s details. It is up to the membership to ratify or not. It was also announced that instead of picketing on October 31, CTU members should rally at City Hall at 10:00 a.m. to pressure Lightfoot to restore lost instructional days and end the strike.

IV. Question and Answers.

The Q. and A. session proceeded slowly as the noise level in the hall rose as delegates started leaving, making it hard for people at the microphones to be heard.

-One delegate asked, and it was confirmed, that there is no moratorium on school closings provision in the TA as exists in the current Agreement.

-The Chappell School delegate asked if Personal Development days can be turned into student attendance days. Jesse said “yes”.

-Lastly, the Whittier School delegate was concerned because his school had less than 50 SpEd kids and had a .5 position for a case manager. Would his school lose that half position? Jesses said “no” since it already exists/

At this point the meeting ended at 8:51 p.m..



Comments:

November 3, 2019 at 1:55 PM

By: Susan Zupan

Serious questions/concerns will result in vote of NO

George - Thank you for this report.

I have (among others) three serious enough concerns/questions that I will not be voting for the contract. Yes, I would go right back out on strike if that be the case over these three issues. I expect to be disappointed, but for what it is worth...

ONE: MAKE-UP DAYS

From what I heard, the House of Delegates was informed that the condition to be met for calling off the strike was that ALL of the days would be made up. It is quoted above as: “...to restore with pay student instructional days lost during the strike.”

I am confused. How did an apparent HOD vote for the longstanding precedent of CPS making up all strike days apparently mutate into CTU leadership accepting the very next day that we give ourselves basically a 6-day furlough, and thus the strike was called off? Seems to me the condition of the HOD for calling off the strike was not met? Can anyone clarify this for me?

Related to this issue, will we actually be getting even the five (5) days "back"? It is reported above that one of the last questions asked, at the dead end of the meeting as the House was actually emptying out, indicates something possibly otherwise might be store for us: "The Chappell School delegate asked if Personal Development days can be turned into student attendance days. Jesse said “yes”." I am assuming, and please correct me if I am wrong, that by "personal development days" that actually referred to "professional development days".

If so, we are already paid for those days without students present. If CPS superimposes student attendance onto such days, then we are at risk of losing all 11 days, giving ourselves an 11-day furlough (as we volunteer to take punishment from this so-called democratic party's mayor, in a so-called democratic state, city and state labeled "sanctuary" even, for having the working class nerve to go out on strike over our abominable working conditions, our students' learning conditions)?

According to Friday's 11/01/19 Chicago Tribune [p. 6 "Tentative deal ends walkout"]: "It's unclear how and when days will be made up, according to the union. The days could be added on to the end of the school year, and there could be other in-service days or school holidays converted to attendance days." This certainly implies that we may not be "getting back" even the 5 days, but instead having student attendance placed upon days which are already scheduled without students for us to be paid for other reasons (common planning time and PD among them).

The gains of the contract, in either case, are being paid for with collective salary cuts.

At a minimum, CTU members really need to see the official make-up day calendar from CPS/mayor before any informed vote can take place (for those who would bend the knee to Lightfoot and accept only 5 days back out of 11).

For me, check the box for: UNACCEPTABLE.

TWO: PREP TIME IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

People may not realize exactly how Rahm's LSD (longer school day) has negatively impacted collaboration and communication in elementary schools. With the Rahm/Lori LSD, in which teachers enter at the same time as students instead of 30-minutes before students as in the past, many teachers might not professionally speak to or even see each other in person from the beginning to the end of the school day, and this situation just continues day to day, week to week.

What other profession actually has this BUILT INTO a usual day's work?

We are on different lunch and prep schedules by grade level, and sometimes even within grade levels. There is no workday time for all of us to meet, to talk, to experience the "Teachers' Lounge" together. "Breakfast in the Classroom" along with two 15-minute AM preps per week, however scheduled, is/was not conducive to seriously alleviating anything in this regard. Some other class coverage options basically cut into student instructional time.

Parents/Guardians with children of different ages used to be able to come into elementary schools during that AM common prep time and readily be able to speak with all of their children's teachers; that ended in CPS with Rahm's LSD. Now they must SCHEDULE times to speak to different teachers during differing prep times. [Note: This discussion has not included the fact of teachers not being paid to but often coming in early or staying late for parent/guardian conferences, especially when the multiple and spread-throughout-the-day times available conflict with work or other home schedules.]

The results? As structured: CPS elementary schools create a perfect environment for any administration (local, network, or system-wide) that functions under a divide-and-conquer mentality. CPS elementary schools create an environment to facilitate a lack of communication. CPS elementary schools create an environment to facilitate a lack of collaboration - among gen ed teachers, but even worse, among gen ed teachers and sped teachers.

CPS elementary schools create a perfect environment for ISOLATION of professionals. Question: How many new teachers leave CPS in a given year?

Again, what other job/career/profession actually structures this into its daily, full work day?

CASE IN POINT: In my school, Taylor School, on top of the above, the administration implemented a policy of not allowing teachers to email each other during anyone's instructional time or go to each other's doors (not even for quick conversations, quick checks on anything), without fear of reprimand. With the LSD, since teachers across the school (PreK -8th) have different student instructional times among them along with the prep times, this completely isolated us from far too many others during the entire school day, on top of being beyond insulting to our intelligence and professionalism.

We filed a grievance, which was signed onto in agreement by virtually the entire faculty. It was brushed side and denied by the Board of Education (like most all of our grievances). And, the Union accepted that decision by its non-action of not pursuing the grievance to any higher level.

The LSC of Taylor School voted no confidence in the administration last June over many management issues/concerns, as the school community gathered over 300 signatures in a matter of days on petitions supporting a lack of no confidence vote. (However, with an unelected School Board, the administration simply remains in place.)

However, coupled with the above school-wide community actions and sentiments, after the faculty pleaded with the principal (Dawn Hill) to rescind the policy again (as had been done repeatedly throughout the years), this time, at the start of the present SY20, the policy was finally rescinded. [Yes, teachers need to beg at some of these local levels for what taxpayers might consider common sense management practices.] We can now utilize CPS email during more than our prep and lunch times daily, without fear of reprimand.

If your elementary school is fine, omg, others are not.

Check the box for: UNACCEPTABLE.

THREE: NO MORATORIUM ON SCHOOL CLOSINGS

The city can apparently take some areas of the city and plan and SPEND to create full-blown thriving neighborhoods (Lincoln Yards?), but the city cannot promise in writing to let any under-enrolled schools (due to exact opposite city and CPS planning and spending) from otherly-located communities hold on for any type of possible future planning or spending on revitalization/realization?

If CTU members vote for this contract, CTU may no longer ever again utter the following so-called "union" words without complete hypocrisy: "An injury to one is an injury to all." I thought we had "been there, done that" over school closings. But, apparently not -- we can tolerate MORE of what all has happened/resulted in regard to that?

Check the box for: UNACCEPTABLE.

November 6, 2019 at 8:39 AM

By: Edward Hershey

Voting No

I am expecting Lindblom to vote no, basically for the reasons Susan outlines in detail above. BTW, Susan is one of the best militants in the union.

I will also be voting "No." I expect the contract will pass, but a substantial no vote here expresses a will to fight.

The vote split to return to work by the UAW at GM was about the same: 60-40.

There are a lot of parallels between the GM strike and our own.

Link to editorial on that question:

https://the-spark.net/bl1571631228.html

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