[Full Text of Motion] CTU seeks real equity in calling for injunction against reopening schools

CTU seeks real equity in calling for injunction against reopening schools under mayors’ dangerous CPS plan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: DECEMBER 7, 2020

CONTACT:

CHRIS GEOVANIS | 312-329-6250 | CHRISGEOVANIS@CTULOCAL1.ORG | MOBILE: 312-446-4939

CPS admitted again last week that school building ventilation was never tested for COVID-19 mitigation as mayor’s team jettisons positivity rate, swaps in ‘doubling rate’ that distorts and lowballs risk.

CHICAGO, Dec. 7, 2020—The Chicago Teachers Union filed a request today with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) for an injunction against Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s arbitrary school reopening date. The Union is calling on Chicago Public Schools and the mayor to set clear and responsible public health criteria by which to honestly judge student and educator safety, instead of arbitrarily setting a reopening date and manipulating statistics to justify their decision. An injunction demands that CPS bargain with the union and land enforceable safety standards before school buildings reopen. The Union is also calling on the district to put real resources behind safety protocols — from personal protective equipment (PPE), COVID-19 screening, testing, contact tracing and vaccination, to a nurse in every school, smaller classes that allow for social distancing, social and emotional supports for traumatized students, and true upgrades to make ventilation safe.

Every one of these demands is necessary to provide real equity for Chicago’s public school students and the educators who serve them. CPS has now admitted twice in meetings with the Union that it failed to test school ventilation systems for their ability — or failure — to mitigate the spread of the virus. The district has also promised to hire an additional 400 custodial workers, but barely a quarter of that staff have been hired. School districts and unions in every major U.S. city except for Chicago have been able to successfully bargain mutually agreed upon safety standards. In Chicago, the mayor and CPS have elected to go it alone, ignoring parents and refusing to work collaboratively with the Union, which has successfully negotiated safety memorandums of understanding with district charter operators.

“CPS has stonewalled us for months as we’ve been trying to bargain enforceable safety standards for our district-run schools,” said CTU President Jesse Sharkey, also the father of two CPS students. “We want our schools open as well, but we want it done safely, and not on the backs of the majority Black and Latinx students we serve.” While CPS has refused to bargain safety issues, Black and Brown parents have overwhelmingly chosen not to return to unsafe school buildings as the pandemic ravages their families and neighborhoods. These families that suffered the most tragedies from COVID-19 have repeatedly opted for remote learning, yet Mayor Lightfoot and her CPS team have failed to prioritize changes to improve remote instruction. Tens of thousands of students still struggle with broadband Internet access and adequately working devices, and as the pandemic surges, returning to unsafe buildings is prioritized over innovation and accessibility for the district’s most economically and racially disenfranchised students.

“Everything about what they are doing is wrong,” said CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates, whose three children are CPS elementary school students. “Teachers, clinicians, paraprofessionals are all being backed into a corner because they want to provide guidance and support for safety, but CPS and the mayor have decided to go it alone, which means they’re not centering the needs of our most vulnerable students because they refuse to engage.”

Almost a third of the more than 500 district-run school buildings have surfaced COVID-19 cases since September. Union representatives have fielded hundreds of complaints from school clerks and technology coordinators working in buildings about CPS safety failures, from dirty buildings and the lack of PPE, to inadequate ventilation, which is a known factor in the spread of the coronavirus. The district has refused to follow a clerk’s binding arbitration decision allowing clerks and technology coordinators to work remotely four days a week, and many have become infected with the virus as a result.

More than 1,000 CPS parents last week participated in a forum on school safety sponsored by the Union and the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, where topics of discussion ranged from how stakeholders can work collaboratively to keep students on track, to the impact of screen time, to specific demands educators need met to reopen school buildings safely. The CTU is committed to frontloading safety, equity and trust in calling for the schools our students deserve in battling COVID-19, which includes comprehensive support services for families, improving proposed hybrid learning plans, safety committees in each school and a joint CTU-CPS committee to oversee the verification of safety and ventilation upgrades. “This is not how the mayor should be leading in a pandemic,” Davis Gates said. “Our school communities and everyone in them need a unifying strategy that puts safety first.”

“The fact that we’ve had to resort to legal strategies to have a voice and agency regarding her reopening plan is beyond disappointing.”

The IELRB rejected the Union’s previous request for an injunction against school reopening because CPS had not yet set a date for reopening. With that date now set, and management still refusing to bargain with the Union on vital safety issues, the CTU is asking the Board to revisit that decision and grant injunctive relief that bars schools from reopening until CPS and the Union have landed safety agreements. The Union expects the IELRB to review the request later this month.

[Full Text of Motion - Case No. 2021-CA-0043-C ] (text is unedited from filing)

BEFORE THE ILLINOIS EDUCATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD STATE OF ILLINOIS

Chicago Teachers Union, Local No.1 IFT-AFT,

Charging Party,

v. Case No. 2021-CA-0043-C

Chicago Board of Education, Respondent.

CTU's Renewed Motion for Injunctive Relief under Section 16(d) of the Act

The Charging Party hereby renews its Motion for the IELRB to seek relief in this case under Section 16(d) of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act ("IELRA"), 115 ILCS 5/16(d). These are the reasons for the Motion:

1. A plague grips the United States, Illinois, and the City of Chicago. It spreads almost unnoticed and causes debilitating illness and death. It will shortly worsen and then worsen again

- so much so that national public health officials have characterized it as a health crisis like no other in the nation's history. Notwithstanding this pandemic, the Chicago Board of Education ("CBE") has unilaterally ordered its teachers and its professional and paraprofessional staff to resume in person classes beginning on January 11, 2020. As stated by CBE CEO Janice Jackson in a citywide radio broadcast last week: "The question of whether students should be in school - we're past that point. The mayor, the board, many of the leaders of CPS, many parents feel like we need to be back in school."1 The CBE's authority to take such unilateral action rests upon a slender reed: the claim that the CBE's right to determine "places of instruction" includes the right

to unilaterally put its teachers and staff into danger without meaningful bargaining. Accordingly,

1 CTU Exh. A, attached hereto.

the CTU renews its request that the IELRB seek injunctive relief so that the terms for resumption of in person classes can be determined by good faith collective bargaining instead of by executive fiat. The support for this conclusion is outlined in the following paragraphs and in the Supplemental Memorandum submitted this day as well.

2. As the IELRB knows, on October 16, 2020, the CBE announced a plan to resume in person learning for pre-kindergarten and students in special education clusters. This plan potentially covered 22,000 students and 5,000 teachers, professional staff, and other paraprofessional staff represented by the Chicago Teachers Union Local No. 1 ("CTU"). This decision was announced without notice to or bargaining with the Union. On October 23, 2020, the CTU filed the ULP charge in this case, along with a request that the IELRB seek relief under Section 16(d) of the Act. The IELRB issued a complaint on October 30, 2020 and the case is set for hearing on January 26 and 28, 2021.

2. On November 5, 2020, the IELRB heard arguments and denied the request to seek injunctive relief. The IELRB agreed with the Union's assertion that the health and safety of employees was a mandatory subject of bargaining. It found, however, that "CBE has not made any movement in furtherance of its goal that would amount to a unilateral change." Chicago Board of Education,_ PERI_, Case No. 2021-CA-0043-C, slip op. at 2-3 (November 19, 2020). It noted, however, that it would be open to reviewing its decision if CPS directed employees to return to work on a specific date. Chicago Board of Education, supra , slip op. at 3, n.1.

3. As set out in the Memorandum accompanying this Motion, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage. During the week prior to the filing of this Motion and the accompanying

Supplemental Memorandum, one million more Americans have become infected with this disease. During same period, Illinois led the nation in deaths due to the disease. While the State and the City have ordered mitigating actions, the impact of those actions remains to be seen.

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, there is a great likelihood of a "surge upon a surge" which will shatter records for infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. According to the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing of November 29, 2020:

The COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high. The national daily COVID incidence after Memorial Day, but before the summer surge, was fewer than 25,000 new cases and is now more than 180,000 new cases/day; COVID inpatients then were fewer than 30,000 but are now more than 90,000; fatalities have more than doubled. We are in a very dangerous place due to the current, extremely high COVID baseline and limited hospital capacity; a further post-Thanksgiving surge will compromise COVID patient care, as well as medical care overall.

CTUExh. B.

On December 2, 2020, the New York Times reported following statements by officials at the Centers for Disease Control:

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned on Wednesday that the nation is facing a devastating winter, predicting that total deaths from Covid-19 could reach "close to 450,00" by February unless a large percentage of Americans follow precautions like mask wearing. "The reality is, December and January and February are going to be rough times," said Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the C.D.C., in an address to the Chamber of Commerce Foundation. "I actually believe they're going top be the most difficult time in the public health history of the nation."

***

"The best thing for American to do during the holiday season is to stay at home and not travel." said Dr. Henry Walke, who oversees day to day

management of pandemic response for the agency.

CTUExh. C.

National coronavirus response coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, elaborated on December 6,

2020:

This is not just the worst public health event. This is the worst event that this country will face, not just from the public health side.

CTUExh. D.

The former head of the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, said on November 30th that he believed that 30% of Americans may be infected with coronavirus by years end. CTU Exh.E.

4. In the midst of this explosion of cases, illness, and death, the CBE has announced a schedule for returning to in person learning in its schools. On November 17, 2020, it set forth the following schedule for return to in-person learning at CPS:

• November 23, 2020: Intent to return form sent to K-8 staff December 7, 2020: Intent to return deadline for K-8 staff January 4. 2021: Return of Pre-Kand cluster program staff January 11, 2021: Students in pre-K and cluster programs return January 25, 2021: Return ofK-8 staff

" February 1, 2021: Return ofK-8 students

CTUExh. F.

5. CPS announced this decision without notice to the CTU and without bargaining about the decision with the CTU. CPS states that it will proceed with its plan unless coronavirus cases

are doubling within an 18 day period of time. It has not bargained about its decision to employ this metric for determining to proceed with its plan.

6. On December 2, 2020, the Chief Executive Officer of CPS, Janice Jackson amplified these points in a radio interview on WBEZ. Jackson stated:

All staff will be expected to return, with exception of people who have waivers to FMLA accommodations - we will most certainly respect those ..

. We have to create a pathway back to in-person instruction that starts with our staff returning to schools, and we don't want to incentivize one model over another by giving that type of flexibility over staff. The first step is getting the adults back into the classroom and then also making sure we create a safe environment to bring kids back - an environment where we can educate them properly.

CTUExh.A.

6. Since CPS has now set a specific schedule for employees to return to work, this case is now ripe for relief under Section 16(d) of the IELRA. As demonstrated in the Charging Party's initial motion and in the Supplemental Memorandum filed with this Motion, these actions create conditions that endanger the health and safety of the CTU's members. CBE had an obligation to bargain about its decision before it announced its decision to the public and to its employees. As the IELRB pointed in a recent case involving Western Illinois University, such a unilateral change violates Section 14(a)(5) of the Act because "the fact that the University already announced its decision on the matter being bargained requires the Union to bargain uphill to reverse a decision that was made and publicly announced unilaterally. Such action violates the central command of the duty to bargain, which requires bargaining at a meaningful time over mandatory subjects of bargaining." Western Illinois University, Case No. 2021-CA-0009-C (September 17, 2020).

6. Given the gravity of the danger to teachers and other staff, the IELRB should now proceed under Section 16(d) of the Act to obtain an injunction prohibiting CBE from requiring teachers and staff to report for in-person learning until they have bargained in good faith about the decision to do so.

Respectfully submitted,

/s/ Stephen A. Yokich

Dowd, Bloch, Bennett, Cervone Auerbach & Yokich

8 S. Michigan, 19th Floor Chicago, Illinois 60603

312-372-1361 (office)

312-286-6723 (cell phone) syokich@laboradvocates.com

The Chicago Teachers Union filed a request 12/7/2020 with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) for an injunction against the Chicago Public Schools for arbitrarily setting a reopening date and manipulating statistics to justify their decision.



Comments:

December 7, 2020 at 3:16 PM

By: Susan Hickey, LCSW

Comment from an Air Quality Specialist

I spoke with David Parry who has been involved in indoor air quality assessments since 1997. He said "Honestly, there is literally no way to control a virus in an indoor environment outside of a medical setting, and even under those circumstances, it requires trained people."

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