Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Chicago Teachers: Worst contract in CTU history?

I reprint this from Substance News. It is for the interest of our readers and concerns discussions going on within the CTU over the recent contract. I am not familiar enough with the issues to comment more. The reader can read comments to this article at Substance News.

Worst contract in CTU history? Consider the actual numbers of teacher salaries since the beginning of the 21st Century...

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis discussed the upcoming strike with reporters following the October 5, 2016 meeting of the CTU House of Delegates. A last minute deal accepted by Lewis and her team goes before an October 19 meeting of the House of Delegates following the end of the strike threat on October 11. If the HOD recommends a "Yes" vote on the proposed deal, it goes to a referendum of the union's active duty members. Substance photo by Jean Schwab.

Rather than continue a debate over appropriate adjectives (one that has been going on in social media as some people who voted in favor of the deal expressed "hurt feelings" when their decision was challenged), let's try some 21st Century facts. Having reviewed all of the CTU contracts since the beginning (which are also in the possession of the CTU leadership, at the union office I once worked in research until being purged), I have been saying that this is the worst contract in CTU history.

And I am including in that the contracts we had to do during and after the "school financial crisis" of 1979 - 1982. But let's just provide readers with the information ("data" is you wish) covering Chicago teacher salaries since the beginning of the 21st Century. A large number of Chicago teachers working today began their careers during the present century, so it's as good a timeline of information as any.
Following here are the teacher salaries (minimum and maximum) and percentage increases over the previous year since FY 2002, according to the CPS Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The CPS fiscal year begins on July 1 at midnight and ends on June 30, so "FY 2002" (below) is from 2001 to 2002. For those who want to check further, additional CAFR information has still be on line from CPS as of October 12, 2016.

Please note that the first "zero percent raise" in the 21st Century came after the CTU leadership agreed to end all Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) complaints against the Board of Education as part of the deal that ended the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 in September 2012.
Fiscal Year Min. Salary Median Max. % Change
2002 $33,861 $47,647 $61,433 2.00%
2003 $34,538 $48,907 $63,276 2.00%
2004 $35,920 $50,864 $65,807 4.00%
2005 $37,357 $52,898 $68,439 4.00%
2006 $38,851 $55,014 $71,177 4.00%
2007 $40,405 $57,215 $74,025 4.00%
2008 $42,021 $59,504 $76,986 4.00%
2009 $43,702 $62,384 $81,065 4.00%
2010 $45,450 $64,879 $84,308 4.00%
2011 $47,268 $67,974 $88,680 4.00%
2012 $47,268 $67,974 $88,680 0.00%
2013 $48,686 $70,644 $92,602 3.00%
2014 $49,660 $72,163 $94,666 2.00%
2015 $50,653 $73,706 $96,759 2.00%

Next, please consider the percentage raises in each year of the proposed contract, which ended the threat of a strike scheduled to begin on October 11, 2016 (information about minimum, maximum and median salaries were not available when these numbers were compiled, based on the eight-page CTU PDF provided at the time the strike was cancelled.
2016 (July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016 0.00*
2017 (July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017 0.00*
2018 (July 1, 2017 - June 30, 2018 2.00*
2019 (July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019 2.50*

* based in information provided by the CTU in the eight-page PDF summary of the agreement distributed on October 11, 2016.

With this information provided, it becomes clear as a picture that the six "worst" years for teacher raises during the 21st Century in Chicago have some since 2010, when the current union leadership took office. The CORE caucus (of which I am a member, as well as a founding member and for five years a member of the caucus's steering committee) took office on July 1, 2010 having defeated the "New UPC" (headed by Marilyn Stewart) in the May-June 2010 elections.

One of those worst years, FY 2012, saw the union surrender a contractual four percent raise rather than continue to fight against the CPS claim that the Board of Education could not "reasonably assume" it would have the money during FY 2012 to pay for it. (Disclosure: I was a research consultant for the CTU at the time and appeared at the first grievance hearing challenging the Board's refusal to pay the four percent, which had been negotiated in the final contract signed by the previous union leadership. We were not told that part of the deal that ended the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 was to give up that grievance -- which would have led to a ULP -- until I asked what happened to the grievance, which was worth thousands of dollars for every CTU member!).

During the discussion that led to the members' acceptance of the proposed agreement following the suspension of picketing in September 2012, much was made of the "non monetary" victories the union had supposedly achieved. Among these were a contract provision against "bullying" (by principals) and a contract provision to "reduce paperwork." By 2015, it was clear the both of those victories were questionable in most schools -- if not a joke.

Similar claims are being made for some of the provisions of the proposed contract that is now going to be debated at the union's House of Delegates (October 19) and then if the HOD votes to recommend that proposed contract to the membership for a referendum.
This year, all teacher members of the CTU (including low-paid substitute teachers) are paying more than $1,100 per year in union dues.
Traditionally, the two legal duties of a union in the USA to its members are:
-- Negotiate a strong contract.
-- Enforce that contract vigorously on behalf of all the union's members.

Any other objectives the union or its leadership may also have are not legal obligations to the dues-paying members, but choices made by the leadership (sometimes in consultation with the members; recently less so). These include defining a CTU strike as a strike for "better schools." During virtually all previous strikes, the union proclaimed that it was on strike for a contract. Some teachers produced signs proposing other reasons, but the main reason for each strike was to win a stronger contract.

And the best way to measure the success of a contract for all the union's members is by how it improves their pay, benefits, and working conditions.


Late in the afternoon of October 12, 2016, the CTU sent out the following clarification about what the House of Delegates vote will mean. Basically, the HOD will make a recommendation to the membership. Only a membership vote determines whether a contract has been ratified.
Be advised,

This is to provide accurate information regarding the CTU contract ratification process. Here is the actual constitutional language regarding the process in ratifying a labor agreement with the Chicago Board of Education. An earlier advisory, issued by the Communications Department, indicated that the House of Delegates had to recommend whether to send the tentative agreement to the full membership. However, according to the CTU Constitution, the agreement goes to the full membership regardless of what is recommended by the House. Please excuse any error or confusion this may have caused and here is the corrected language:

CTU Constitution says:

Sec. 1: Authority Subject to the final authority of the membership, the general governing body of the Union shall be a House of Delegates, the members of which shall be members of the Union in good standing, elected by vote of their constituent Union members.

Each member of the House of Delegates shall have full voting privileges (except as provided for in
Article VI Sec. 2b), except members representing retired members shall not vote on the authorization of a strike or the acceptance or the rejecting of a partial or final collective bargaining agreement.

Action by the House to authorize a strike or accept or reject a partial or final collective bargaining agreement shall be advisory only and in both instances shall be subject to a final, direct vote of the regular members.
The House of Delegates shall determine the actual date of the strike.
The manner of such voting shall be set by the House except that the House may never authorize indirect voting.


G de Leon said...

as an aside. noticed the near 50,000$ difference in minimum/maximum salaries. a new teacher c'd be working alongside a "co-worker" pulling down double their salary.

i w'd note that at times, union leaders have to make accept a less than stellar agreement if it gains them something. the nature of negotiations.

sounds like the author of this article thinks the "gains" have been "symbolic". given what happened after the 2012 strike & agreement, hard to argue with that.

the activists supporting the CTU were preparing themselves for an epic battle & i'm sure were surprised by the agreement. i was not because i view unions as limited organizations representing the "current" membership. often (though not always) the interest of new hired, retirees, dependents, the client (in this case, children & parents) base of the enterprise are forgotten or thrown under if the agreement serves the "current" employees. in this case, it doesn't improve their salaries or working conditions. does buy a few years of "peace". the sympathetic left will spin this into a "victory".

Sean said...

Yes the so called left claims just about all defeats as victories these days. There are a number of reasons. One is they do not want to confront the union leaderships who believe that only defeats are possible. In fact i would go further than this. The union leadership do not want victories. If they have victories this would show that victories are possible and this would negate their whole strategy and propaganda that capitalism as it is now on the offensive cannot be thrown back and concessions have to be the name of the game. A good victory would tear at, would undermine this entire BS of the union leadership. And it would also of course tear at an undermine the tame left who support the union leadership. The union leadership and the tame left are united in their fear of big victories. And one way or another unite to see that these are not won. Sean O'Torain.