Delegates to union: Put the brakes on Senate Bill 7

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At Wednesday night’s House of Delegates meeting, Chicago Teachers Union  
members called on union leaders to reopen negotiations to try to change 
several provisions in Illinois Senate Bill 7, which would curb tenure 
and strike rights for teachers. At Wednesday night’s House of Delegates meeting, Chicago Teachers Union members called on union leaders to reopen negotiations to try to change several provisions in Illinois Senate Bill 7, which would curb tenure and strike rights for teachers.

The House of Delegates is the union’s governing body; it is composed of representatives from Chicago schools.

When education reform advocates and lawmakers announced that they had struck a deal with the union, it was seen as a victory. The bill was negotiated collaboratively between legislators and the Illinois Education Association, CTU, and education reform groups Advance Illinois and Stand for Children.

A House committee hearing on the bill is scheduled for Wednesday May 11.

In a news release, CTU president Karen Lewis said the language that raised teachers’ concerns had been inserted “during last-minute midnight maneuvers.”

It was not clear from the release whether union leadership was aware of the language when it initially announced support of the compromise bill.

Two specific provisions created the issue:

*Language that bars mediators, fact-finders, and even the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board from jurisdiction over Chicago disputes about job outsourcing, layoffs, and length of the school day and year. Without a dispute resolution process, CTU attorney Robert Bloch said in the release, the law “allows Chicago Public Schools to tear up labor contracts it made.”

*A section that disallows strikes, unless at least three-fourths of the total CTU membership are in favor.