Saturday, February 6, 2016

CTU HOD Meeting

CTU Leadership Sets Unity Ship Straight at HOD
By Jim Vail

CTU VP Jesse Sharkey and IL Gov. Rauner (right).

The Chicago Teachers Union leadership set the ship back on course to show there is unity between the leadership, the bargaining team and the teachers over a new contract.

CTU President Karen Lewis set out a mixed signal last week when she said the Chicago Board of Education sent a serious proposal for a new contract that had a lot of good things in it.

However, the big bargaining team that consists of 40 CTU members outright rejected the offer, and several thousand teachers and other CTU members marched in the streets downtown and around Congress Parkway on Thursday to demonstrate and show the fight is still on.

The bargaining team was introduced to a mad round of applause at the House of Delegates meeting last Wed. Feb. 3. 

High School delegate Jim Cavallero told the delegates that they rejected the offer that included some guarantees against school closings and charter school proliferation because the contract was contingent upon 2200 teachers retiring, with an incentive to teachers of getting $1500 for each year of service if they chose to retire.

"They want to push out the veteran teachers," Cavallero said. "I know I've learned a lot from older teachers."

High school delegate Viktor Ochoa said he's learned you cannot trust the Chicago Public Schools and thus the contract offer had a lot of loopholes.

"They want to kick the can down the road," he said. "They can furlough any time during the contract."

VP Jesse Sharkey noted that the federal government just awarded KIPP, Nobel and another charter school $40 million, so the guarantee that there would be no more charter school openings during the proposed 4 year contract was suspect.

"We know they'll go around the corner," he said.

Sharkey told the delegates that the CTU is a "democratic union" and that the board never had to make any cuts, which were merely scare tactics to make it look like it's the union's fault.

"If we agree to the cuts it will not solve their problem," he said.

"What's next is we need to stay unified," Lewis told the delegates. "Unity and working together is not always easy."

Lewis said the Chicago Tribune did not have certain facts correct in their stories on the contract fight and she made light of the fact that many have taken to Twitter to attack her. She told one angry twitterer (or twit?) that she had to correct his grammar: 'It's not 'lesser' unions, it's 'fewer' unions."

Lewis said they spent a good "40 hours" dissecting the new contract offer.

"We have not yet begun to fight," Lewis said to a loud round of applause.

The CTU leadership also told the delegates that the notice that the 7% pension pickup would be eliminated in 30 days is illegal and they would file a grievance with the labor relations board (which is controlled by right-wing multi-millionaire Gov. Bruce Rauner's people).

Jay Rehak, president of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, said this elimination of the pension pickup would immediately hurt the fund's ability to invest in a market that is cooling down, thus offering cheaper opportunities to invest.

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