[Ten Years Ago - Mass Layoffs] Seventy-eight displaced teachers sign grievance after grievance meetings at PUSH... Teachers Organize and Fight Back Against Terminations

Ten years ago the Chicago Public Schools targeted African American women teachers disproportional for layoffs en masse. The laid off teachers were left in limbo for Union Representation since there was a transition in power from the Marilyn Stewart team to the newly elected Karen Lewis team. In the interim Dr. John Kugler, Rosita Chatonda, Antoinette ('Toni') Barnes in partnership with Jonathan Jackson at Operation PUSH Headquarters organized the laid off staff to fight against their layoffs.

below is the original article documenting the history of that moment...

Seventy-eight displaced teachers sign grievance after grievance meetings at PUSH... Teachers Organize and Fight Back Against Terminations

Dr. John Kugler - July 02, 2010

On Tuesday, June 29, 2010, at 6:00 a meeting was held at Operation PUSH with CPS Literacy Coaches who were to be terminated by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) on June 30, 2010. In addition, other city-wide teachers who are also being terminated attended. A group of Instructional Delivery System (IDS) teachers complained that their positions were cut as well. There were approximately 100 tenured teachers from different city-wide positions who had been terminated in attendance at the meeting. These teachers have tenure and are denied being put into the re-assignment pool because they are considered "citywide.”

More than 100 teachers, most of them to be terminated on July 1 on orders of Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman, were at the June 29 meeting at Operation PUSH on Chicago's South Side. Above, Rosita Chatunda (right side, back) speaks to the group about how grievances and possible litigation could be organized. Substance photo by John Kugler.Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman has been trying to claim that he has "cut" central office staff, when in fact most of the cuts have been made from the citywide ranks of teachers like those who attended the June 29 meeting at PUSH. By deliberately including teachers and others providing citywide services in his regular listing of supposed central office cuts, Huberman has been misleading the public since the current debate over the supposed "deficit" at CPS began.

Tenured teachers under the current contract are afforded the right to be put into a reassignment pool the next school year after being laid off from their positions. While in the reassigned teacher pool, they can continue working, while looking for another teaching position in CPS without the loss of health insurance and regular salary. Since May 2010, when Huberman's staff ordered the issuance of cut notices to school-based teachers, hundreds of teachers have been put into the reassigned teacher pool, as has been the practice at CPS since the 1990s. The "citywide" teachers were shocked to discover that they had been made an exception to the general policy when they were informed by Huberman's staff that they had not only lost their jobs, but that they were being deprived of their rights to be placed in the reassigned teacher pool for one year.

From reading the dismissal letters and teachers at who attended the meeting, teachers and others at the PUSH meeting concluded that CPS has the intention to violate the contract and not give the dismissed tenured teachers their right to employment and benefits that are enumerated in the contract.

The transition in the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union was part of the impetus giving cause for optimism to the more than 100 teachers who attended the PUSH meeting on June 28.

One of the hosts for the June 29 meeting at Operation PUSH was Jonathan Jackson (above, standing). Jonathan Jackson has been helping organize against school closings and turnarounds for the past two years, and has provided numerous kinds of support to teachers, students and parents from the schools that were under attack by the Daley administration. Substance photo by John Kugler.“Organizing and collective resistance is how we will win, against the corporate policies that are being used to antagonize union members and destroy the public education in Chicago and across the nation,” Michael Brunson, Recording Secretary from the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) stressed the importance of unity in resistance to these mass terminations. Brunson, who was one of four new officers elected in the June 11 runoff election, spoke to the teachers at PUSH. On July 1, Brunson took office as Recording Secretary of CTU.

Robin Potter, one of the new attorneys for the CTU was also in attendance at the PUSH meeting. She stressed the need for documentation, including clear and concise narratives of any and all actions taken against dismissed and terminate teachers. She suggested that all the narratives and grievance authoirzations be collected and analyzed so that the proper course of action can then be taken to fight the mass terminations of teachers.

“We are looking to file lawsuits in several areas depending on the specific circumstances of teacher terminations,” she stated.

Rose Joshua and George Eddings from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attended the meeting and spoke to the teachers. Both are attorneys who said they want to work in partnership with the CTU to assist with this epidemic of mass firings of teachers. Mr. Eddings spoke about the New York teachers union who successfully filed a lawsuit to stop 19 school closings [see related article in Substance dated July 2, 2010].

“The issue of your terminations is at heart of our broken system.” Jonathan Jackson spoke on behalf of Operation PUSH. “A system that refuses to see the harm it is causing in our communities. A system that refuses to address the needs of our communities. A system that needs to be fixed, not by corporate American, but by the people who live and work in these communities and who are fully vested in the interests of the empowerment of black youth.” Jonathan Jackson has been leading PUSH in supporting Chicago public school teachers against the cuts and turnarounds of inner city schools since January 2009, when he became active after investigating the Board of Education's proposal to turnaround Holmes Elementary School.

Teacher Antoinette ('Toni') Barnes (above, speaking) had organized DARTS when it became clear that displaced teachers were being railroaded out of the Chicago Public Schools by Arne Duncan (and later, Ron Huberman) under policies and laws backed by Mayor Richard M. Daley. Barnes helped the teachers at the June 29 meeting understand the implications of the legal actions and grievance actions they had to take. Substance photo by John Kugler.

Antoinette Barnes

represented Displaced and Reassigned Teachers in Solidarity (DARTS) who spoke to give support and advice to the dismissed teachers. “Be prepared for a long fight. It not going to be easy and some days you are going to want be give up, but remember they started this fight and we are going to finish it. And we are going to win.”

During the meeting, teachers were grouped into classifications for the purpose of examining the legal course of action to take. Teacher/PSRP intake forms were filled out. This reporter, John Kugler, passed out paperwork to begin the grievance process and demand CPS Cease-And-Desist any termination proceedings including the loss of health benefits before the teachers issues are herd as part of their due process rights. The forms asked for basic information including the details of the individuals’ service in CPS and reason for dismissal. There are three different reasons for the dismissals, Lack of Funds, Redefinition of a Program and Programmatic Changes, all sent of out on form letters all signed by Nancy Slavin, Recruitment and Workforce Planning Officer on June 16 and June 23 , 2010.

Dear Colleague:

Please be advised that your position is no longer available effective June 30, 2010 due to Lack of Funds.

As a result, I regret to inform you that you will be laid off and honorably dismissed effective June 30, 2010.

I have enclosed a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that include important information for you regarding continuation of your benefits, sick and benefit day payouts, and unemployment compensation. Please review the information carefully.

Additionally, to assist you with your transition, Human Capitalwill host a Resume Writing and Interview Tips Workshop to provide you with an opportunity to address your employment related questions, and to provide you with a general overview of the recruitment and hiring process. You are strongly encouraged to attend one of the Resume Writing and Interview Tips Workshops. These events will be held at the CPS Teachers’ Academy of Math and Science (TAMS), 501 West 35th Street, Chicago Room, f~ Floor. To learn more about the Resume Writing Workshop, please review the flier included in this packet.

On behalf of the CPS, I thank you for your service to Chicago public school students.

Sincerely,

Nancy Slavin

Recruitment and Workforce Planning Officer

The grievance was submitted June 30, 2010, at approximately 5 AM to Cheryl Colston, Director of Labor Relations and Ron Huberman CEO of the Chicago Public Schools.

Another meeting will be held next Tuesday July 5, 2010 at 6:00 at Operation PUSH Headquarters 930 East 50th Street, Chicago, IL 60615.

For more information about the up coming meeting or if you are a dismissed, displaced or terminated Chicago Public Schools employee and to join this fight against the termination of school staff.

Contact, Dr. John Kugler, kuglerjohn@comcast.net

or

Rosita Chatonda, rcchatonda@yahoo.com

The Grievance signed and filed by 78 tenured teachers challenging their dismissed and honorability termination is below:

Dated: Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mrs.Cheryl J.Colston, Director

Office of Labor and Employee Relations

125 S.Clark St, 13th Floor

Chicago, IL 60603

RE: Article 3-1.2, 3-6

Grievants: Teachers, Union Members and Chicago Public Schools staff

[Identifiers have been left out for space and confidentiality reasons]

Chicago Public Schools

Case 06262010

Subject: Wrongful Displacement and Termination of Teachers

Article 2-1, 42-2, Appendix H and any and all other Articles and Sections and Board Rules, which apply.

Dear Mrs.Colston:

In accordance with the provisions of Article 3-1.2 and Article 3-6 of the Agreement between the Board of Education of the City of Chicago and the Chicago Teachers Union, this grievance is filed as a group directly with the Office of Employee Relations with the above named affected bargaining unit members as signatories.

As is our right under the IELRA Sec 3:

Employee rights. (a)

It shall be lawful for educational employees to organize, form, join, or assist in employee organizations or engage in lawful concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection or bargain collectively through representatives of their own free choice …

(b)

...a group of employees may at any time present grievances to their employer... The Grievants contend that there has been a violation of the Board-Union Agreement that involves a work situation complaint and a misapplication of and a deviation from past practice and policies as stipulated in Article 3 of the Agreement. We further contend that Article 2-1, Article 42-2 Appendix H and any and all other Articles, Sections and Board Rules which apply have been violated.

The Grievants contend that they were assigned by the Office of Human Capital Chicago Public Schools to the Central Office as City-Wide Teachers. On or about June 16 and June 23 they received termination letters from the Office of Human Capital, Chicago Public Schools, signed by Nancy Slavin, Recruitment and Workforce Planning Officer.

The Grievants state:

1.

The Chicago Public Schools did not give the dismissed/terminated teachers the required written notice before the end of the school term to inform them of their removal or dismissal.

2.

The Chicago Public Schools violated Article 42-2 regarding reassignment and layoffs of appointed tenured teachers.

3.

The Chicago Public Schools violated Appendix H of the Agreement by not providing placement in the reassigned teacher’s pool, opportunity to interview and interim assignment.

4.

The Chicago Public Schools violated the teachers' rights to Due Process with their Wrongful Dismissals and Loss of Benefits in the letter signed by Nancy Slavin.

5.

The majority of the Grievants are women.

6.

The majority of the Grievants are over 40 years old.

7.

There are several Grievants that have been threatened with loss of employment and health insurance benefits despite their disabilities in possible violation of their ADA rights.

8.

The Grievants were deprived/dispossessed of their tenure, a property right, illegally and without due process.

In order to resolve this matter the Grievants request that Chicago Public Schools

IMMEDIATELY CEASE AND DESIST

any and all terminations, displacements and loss of benefits until the matter is resolved and investigated. The grievants demand to be reinstated to their permanent positions and any and all other actions which make the grievants whole.

Respectfully signed and submitted, [Identifiers have been left out for space and confidentiality reasons]

In the New York NAACP lawsuit, according to the attorneys from the NAACP, the union worked with the community to prove to the court that the closings were a rubber stamp by corporate interests and did not take into account the various issues each individual school had within its neighborhood and the needs of the students in the local communities where each of the schools was to be closed. Judge Joan Lobes ruled that the school closings process had significant violations of due process regarding compliance with education law when it issued its Educational Impact Statements for the schools, providing insufficient detail of what the closings would mean to the surrounding communities.

Noted Chicago labor lawyer Robin Potter (above, with son Jackson Potter, CORE co-chair, at the CORE press conference at Martin Luther King Jr. High School on June 12) provided legal advice to the teachers who came to Operation PUSH on June 29. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.



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