Friday, May 1, 2015

Lewis Addresses Members

Letter from CTU President Karen Lewis

Thank you so much for being part of the outpouring of support during my recovery. I'm feeling strong and well-rested, and more than well enough to take on the Board of Education and their ridiculous line of counterproposals to CTU demands in our new contract. Nothing they have proposed does anything to support our work in the schools or improve the quality of education for our students. CTU leadership also learned today that the Board will not offer an extension of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, which provided the option for a fourth year of the contract with a 3 percent raise.
Interim CPS CEO Jesse Ruiz did admit that a salary increase for CPS staff was "well-deserved," but said he regrets that the district's revenue shortfalls would not allow for an increase at this time. It's a shame our members have to suffer as the district is forced to dig itself out of a mess of its own creation. But the truth of the matter is that CPS is "broke on purpose" because of its own bad math and contracts mired in scandal.
Let me repeat that: Broke. On. Purpose.
In other news today, we're hearing reports that WGN-TV has been trying to generate buzz over a segment on our sale of the Fewkes Tower property at 55 W. Chestnut. We do not, however, have much to report because we do not know what the segment will entail. For us, this is a non-story, but you'd be hard-pressed to convince WGN of that. Despite respectfully complying with nearly all of their requests, a WGN reporter ambushed CTU staff at our Merchandise Mart office last week and had to be asked to leave by Mart security.
A little background... Fewkes Tower was built by the CTU in 1963-64 to provide affordable housing and services for retired teachers. For the past 40 years, very few retired teachers have chosen to move to Fewkes Tower. Those who did were provided with a 20 percent rent subsidy. As of 2014, only seven of the 224 apartments in Fewkes Tower were occupied by retired CPS teachers. In reviewing the use of the property it was determined that the original purposes of the Fewkes Tower project no longer needed to be served and that the assets represented by the building could be better used by the CTU Foundation for broader charitable and educational purposes. In 2014 the property was sold, a story that Crain's first reported last October.
In the Spring of 2017, the Foundation, along with CTU headquarters, offices and professional development meeting space, will move into a new location at 1901 W. Carroll Ave. We are very excited about this, and also grateful for the opportunity to make charitable donations to organizations that are aligned with our defense of public education, support of teachers and the teaching profession, and working for the betterment of our students and the greater common good. These donations surpassed $1 million last year, and we will continue supporting groups and individuals dedicated to the fight for public education. Click here for more information on the history and the sale of Fewkes Tower
We will also continue to fight for your rights in the schools and for our future as educators, and never waver in standing up for what is right for our members and their interests—the students of the city of Chicago.
In unity and solidarity,

Karen GJ Lewis, NBCT

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