Teachers in the nation’s third-largest school district voted overwhelmingly to authorize the first strike in 25 years if their union and the city cannot reach a deal on a contract this summer — signaling just how badly the relationship between teachers and Chicago school officials has deteriorated, union officials said Monday.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis announced the result of last week’s balloting — nearly 90 percent of its 26,502 members voted to authorize a strike —and called it “an indictment of the state of the relationship between the management of CPS and its largest labor force members.” State law requires 75 percent approval.
Teachers are upset that Mayor Rahm Emanuel canceled last year’s raise and that they’re being asked to work longer days without what they consider to be an adequate pay increase. Lewis said other key issues include class size and resources.
Much of the teachers’ frustration has centered on Emanuel, who rescinded a 4 percent raise last year and then tried to go around the union in his push for longer school days by asking teachers at individual schools to waive the union contract to work more hours. The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board subsequently blocked Emanuel’s negotiations with schools.
He still was able to lengthen the school day for children to 7 hours, starting this fall, without the union’s approval.
The district has proposed a five-year deal that guarantees teachers a 2 percent pay raise in the first year and lengthens by 10 percent the amount of time teachers must spend at school, from 7 hours to 7 hours and 40 minutes. The union wants a two-year deal that reduces class size and calls for teachers to receive a 24 percent pay raise in the first year and a 5 percent pay raise in the second year.
Chicago public school students have the shortest school day — 5 hours and 45 minutes — among the nation’s 50 largest districts, according to a 2007 report from the National Council on Teacher Quality — part of the reason Emanuel moved to lengthen it.
But the Chicago Teachers Union said that report did not track actual classroom time and insisted the amount of instruction time was on par with other districts.
There is an interesting pro-teacher post and comments about this at Cheetoville. The best part is how they are trying to blame this on the Republicans.
BTW – The current median income for Chicago Teachers is $65,000 a year.