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Union and Displaced Teachers Fight to Get In... Job Fair — er, the 'Career Event for Impacted Teachers' — another insult to veteran teachers

After firing at least 1,000 teachers this summer — adding to hundreds illegal fired last summer who are trying to get rehired — the Chicago Board of Education pretended to help them by holding what it called a “Career Event for Impacted Teachers” on Thursday, July 21, 2011. Under the Board’s restrictive rules, only about 130 teachers were actually admitted to what teachers have been calling the “secret job fair.” Many out-of-work teachers were turned away because their positions were terminated earlier, rather than in the past week, or because they had missed the Board’s deadline to register online less than a week after receiving their pink slip.

Representatives of the Chicago Teachers Union met with displaced teachers outside of the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) Forum during a "career event" the Board held on Thursday, July 21, 2011 for so called "impacted teachers" whose teaching positions were closed this summer. The total number of teachers losing their jobs this is year is at least 1,000 by the union’s last count. The Board of Education refused to allow the union to set up a table inside the building, forcing the union to meet with teachers on the sidewalk on a day when temperatures reached nearly 100 degrees F. Substance photo by David R. Stone.

For example, Pat Gerard a displaced teacher from last year’s epic cuts of over 2,000 CPS employees was refused entry. Rachel Resnick, Labor Relations Officer identified Pat as she tried to enter the building asking her “What are you doing here?”

“I am a displaced teacher still out of work,” Pat replied.

“You cannot enter this event,” Mrs Resnick replied, and that ended the exchange. At that time Ms. Gerard walked outside and helped hand out flyers to teachers attending the event.

Along with Ms. Gerard were at least a half dozen Union Staffers (led by the head of the CTU Organizing Department, Norine Gutekanst) were on hand to make sure that all teachers that needed to talk to their Union representatives had that chance. The Union was concerned that the Board was denying teachers the right to representation during such traumatic time in their careers.

There were many questions asked about the reassignment pool procedure and why some teachers were put in the pool and others were not allowed that benefit. There is great anticipation for the Union Displaced Teacher meeting being organized for next week so questions can be answered. One resounding sentiment was clear from all the teachers talked to — no one likes the idea of a secret job fair that only a select group can attend.

The Board of Education has not released any official figures on how many teachers have lost their jobs. The reasons the teachers are losing their jobs are: due to a claimed budget crisis, low enrollment at their school, and other reasons. The Chicago Teachers Union estimates that about 1,000 teachers have lost their jobs this summer, and union officials suspect that more job cuts may be coming.

Last summer, about 1,300 were fired at the beginning of the summer under then Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman. The total number for the 2010-11 school year eventually reached more than 2,000, according to CTU estimates, as more veteran teachers were dumped by CPS officials during the brief regime of Huberman's successor, Interim CEO Terry Mazany.

Now the third largest school system in the USA is under its third "Chief Executive Officer" in less than a year, and the elimination of veteran tenured teachers continues.

Two courts have ruled in the union’s favor that the way the Board of Education fired teachers last summer was illegal. The Board is continuing to appeal and dragging its feet about rehiring them. The union estimates that about 65 percent of the teachers fired last summer were eventually rehired, but some of them have been fired again this summer. Even if the 65 percent figure is accurate (Chicago Public Schools simply refuses to make public even the most basic information at this point in history, so, for example, union officials have not had a complete listing of all school workers since November 2010), more than 400 teachers from last summer are still out of work.

This year, the terminations come closer to following the collective bargaining agreement between the Board of Education and the Chicago Teachers Union, union officials are saying. Teachers have seen more of an effort to fire them according to credentials and seniority. Also this year, more teachers are being moved into the “Reassigned Teacher Pool,” which allows them to collect their salary for the next year while holding temporary teaching jobs and looking for a full-time position. Last year, teachers were “Honorably Discharged” without the benefits guaranteed under the union contract.

Yet there is reason to wonder if the Board of Education is serious about helping displaced teachers find jobs. In addition to the restrictions on which displaced teachers could attend the July 21 "Career Event", there were limits on the number of teaching positions available. Approximately 90 schools had open teaching positions and were scheduled to interview teachers — but only about half of them sent representatives to the job fair. Approximately 40 tables in the temporary hiring hall (a meeting room at the University of Illinois-Chicago [UIC] Forum) were empty except for a tag listing the name of the school.

Another sign of how much Board of Education officials declined to be helpful: The Board of Education last week denied a request from the union to attend the event as in years past. The idea of the Union attending the event was to show that CPS had compassion for the displaced teachers and was working with the Union to provide support and services for the teachers. The answer then as it was today was, NO.

The union representatives’ willingness to spend a day on the sidewalk in front the UIC Forum while temperatures reached nearly 100 degrees F., showed their determination to help teachers fight back against the Board of Education’s arbitrary policies.

[CAPTION: Representatives of the Chicago Teachers Union met with displaced teachers outside of the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) Forum during a "career event" the Board held on Thursday, July 21, 2011 for so called "impacted teachers" whose teaching positions were closed this summer. The total number of teachers losing their jobs this is year is at least 1,000 by the union’s last count. The Board of Education refused to allow the union to set up a table inside the building, forcing the union to meet with teachers on the sidewalk on a day when temperatures reached nearly 100 degrees F. Substance photo by David R. Stone]



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July 23, 2011 at 2:45 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

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