Sunday, January 31, 2016

Why Tentative Agreement?

Why CTU Leadership Deal Last Minute?
By Jim Vail

The question that has to be on many Chicago Teacher Union members' minds is why have their leaders suddenly shifted course so quickly?

The CTU said they would strike over the pension pickup issue, but now they say they have a "tentative deal" with the Chicago Public Schools in which they have agreed to phase out the pension pickup that CPS has been paying into, resulting in a 7% pay cut.

Sources say that many bargaining committee members did not like this deal, because it accepts CPS reality that the teachers need to make big cuts to help plug the budget deficit rather than focus on the banks, and rich to pay their fair share. 

Not to mention, the CTU is bargaining with a disgraced mayor who the democratic machine has dropped like a hot potato. 

Now the teachers, who led an invigorating strike three years ago that galvanized the country, look like a defeated dog after the teachers had rallied to fight the cutbacks on a frigid November night in Grant Park, and authorized a whopping 96% strike vote.

The fact is the CTU leadership decided to threaten a strike, organized around the issue to help the bargaining process and now have decided to make a deal and give up the pension pickup, which the teachers had once gone on strike for back in 1987. 

The union is stating that they will get certain job protections that may be questionable. For example, no more charter schools during the duration of the tentative four-year deal? A Core member, the leadership caucus, said one union official at a recent emergency meeting acknowledged this can be circumvented via the state charter commission that can override CPS decisions on allowing charter schools into the city.

No more economic layoffs? That doesn't mean eliminating positions when there is a drop in enrollment, and we know CPS is all about dropping enrollment. This contract will not stop that.

Reach evaluations? Sources state the evaluations will go from 4 to 3 per year. But is the unreliable value added-metrics for tying test scores to teacher evaluations eliminated? Will there be less standardized tests?

Many questions remain, and the details are just trickling in.

This really looked like a deal between the leadership, namely the CTU President Karen Lewis and the city powers that be, to accept the bosses' reality that the teachers have to give up part of their pension payments and take a big salary cut.

The theatrics involving a big bargaining committee with 40 members, rallies and walk-ins and strike votes appear to have been more theatrics than real substance. Although, one could argue that they gave the union more bargaining strength.

But this was a deal orchestrated from the top.

Now the teacher delegates must vote on this contract at the Wednesday, Feb. 3 House of Delegates meeting.

There is no organized opposition caucus to lead a fight against this major contract concession.

The new contract will pass, and life for teachers will continue to diminish along with the rest of the working people in this country. 

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