This is from NBC via Norm Scott:
CHICAGO — If Chicago teachers accept the pay raise they’ve been offered by the city’s mayor and school board — a 16 percent bump over five years — they could soon be some of the highest paid big-city teachers in the nation.
But here, in a city where many schools lack resources to help children in poverty cope with trauma and other challenges, and where a strong history of union activism has already triggered two teacher strikes this decade alone, union leaders say a pay raise is not enough.
What? Could you even contemplate UFT President Michael Mulgrew saying a pay raise is not enough in NYC?
Back to the NBC article:
As educators in the nation’s third-largest school district prepare for another strike, some even call the city’s raise proposal a distraction.
“It’s a very strategic thing they’re doing,” said Katie Osgood, a special education teacher and a rank-and-file member of the union’s contract negotiating team. “They want to use that to decrease the public support that we have, to say: ‘C’mon greedy teachers. Take the deal.’”
While Osgood acknowledged that the pay offer is “not the worst,” she said teachers are focused on more than just paychecks.
“We’re actually asking for real demands,” Osgood told several dozen parents, activists and supporters at a meeting of a group called the Chicago Teachers & Staff Solidarity Campaign last week. “Real demands that will change things.”
The teachers’ demands — including smaller class sizes and the hiring of additional school nurses, librarians and social workers — are similar to those that have echoed across the country in the last two years amid a wave of teacher activism not seen in the U.S. in decades.
As stated above, llinois law only allows teacher strikes over salary. They can bargain over other issues like class size but not strike. I find it very interesting the Chicago Public Schools are offering 16% over 5 years. Certainly, they want to make this look like a battle against selfish teachers. The union is asking for 15% over 3 years. How they go around the law to threaten a strike over educational issues should be fascinating.
For more information on the CTU situation, I went to Substance, the Chicago equivalent of EdNotes. Here is a part of George Milkowski's report on the September House of Delegates meeting:
(Financial Secretary) Maria (Moreno) said the Board is trying to split us by offering higher raises while ignoring everything regarding working conditions. A strong “yes” vote on a strike is necessary to get the Board to move in negotiations. She also reminded the delegates that according to Illinois State law, those who do not vote will be counted as a “No’ vote.
They will be taking that strike vote in the schools in the next few days after the Delegates voted unanimously for a vote to authorize a strike.
To show the differences between the UFT and CTU, just read more of the Substance report on the Delegate meeting:
President’s Report – Jesse (Sharkey) was brief. He said an overwhelming vote to strike is our best opportunity to get a good contract. He stressed that we need a written guarantee in the contract to hire clinicians, nurses, and so on. We cannot rely on verbal promises.
He is basically saying we are fighting for more than just money and his report was brief. Think about that NYC UFT Delegates as you sit through the next Michael Mulgrew hour long report at our Delegate Assembly.
I know some reader is going to say that Chicago teachers make less money than NYC teachers. Let's do a comparison. Chicago teachers start out at $52,000 and max out just short of $100,000 a year. If they accept management's offer, they will end up close to starting at $60,000 by the end of the contract and they will max out in the $115,000 range. Toward the end of our contract in May of 2021, teachers in NYC will start at $61,070 and max out at $128,657 a year. NYC teachers will be ahead of Chicago even if the CTU's demand for a 15% raise over three years is met. However, when we compare the cost of living in the two cities, teachers are doing pretty well out in the windy city even before they obtain raises in their next contract.
This is from Bestplaces.net:
Overall, Chicago, Illinois is 42.9% cheaper than New York, New York
- Median Home Cost is the biggest factor in the cost of living difference.
- Median Home Cost is 65% cheaper in Chicago.
Cost of living 42.9% lower in Chicago compared to NYC; that is a major difference. NYC teachers certainly don't make 42.9% more money than our Chicago colleagues.
To be fair there is one clause in our contract that is light years better in NYC compared to Chicago. Absent Teacher Reserves in Chicago get a few months after schools are closed or downsized to hook on in another school and if they cannot, they are terminated. I hope the CTU does something to address this. NYC teachers can remain ATRS forever. If I was in Chicago, it would have been very difficult to keep my job after my school closed. I condemn the UFT for giving up seniority and SBO transfers in 2005 but credit them for not allowing the DOE to finish the job and terminate teachers after schools are closed or programs downsized.
That said, what is the advantage to taking an early contract, as we did in NYC in 2018, and not at least threatening some kind of militancy? NYC teachers won very little as is shown in our current contract with its less than stellar raises and working conditions that continue to deteriorate or at best stagnate. Note that the CTU was also not afraid to say that 23 CTU members opted out of paying dues this year. Not bad for a union with tens of thousands of members.
Oh I almost forgot about this: What presidential candidate will be joining the Chicago teachers on Tuesday at a giant labor rally?
Of course it's Bernie Sanders.
We will see how this all plays out in Chicago.