CTU, district closer to contract deal that keeps pension pickup

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Chicago Teachers Union bargaining team members listen to parents express their primary concerns at a forum sponsored by Parents 4 Teachers at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church on May 19, 2015.

Photo by Grace Donnelly

Chicago Teachers Union bargaining team members listen to parents express their primary concerns at a forum sponsored by Parents 4 Teachers at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church on May 19, 2015.

The Chicago Teachers Union’s bargaining team is considering a proposal from CPS for a one-year contract that includes no raises but retains the 7-percent payment that the district “picks up” for teachers in pension costs.

Late Wednesday evening, the union was pushing for inclusion of other issues in the contract, including class size limits, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. Bargaining sessions, which had previously been held just once a week, resume again today.

A deal would mean no repeat of the 2012 strike.

CPS wants a tentative agreement with the union by early next week, union insiders say, a time-frame that’s linked to a deal being worked out between City Hall and Springfield to give the district a six-week delay on making its required $634 pension payment.

The Illinois House of Representatives shot down a bill to delay the CPS payment on Tuesday. House Speaker Mike Madigan has said he would bring back the bill for another vote next Tuesday — the same day the CTU’s current labor contract expires.

CPS officials had presented their latest contract proposal to a smaller subset of the CTU bargaining team last week; the negotiation session held on Wednesday included the larger “big bargaining team” of more than 40 union members who represent a variety of job classifications and schools.

CTU Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle declined to discuss details of the contract negotiations with Catalyst during Wednesday’s separate Board of Education meeting. But she said there is “a series of non-economic proposals they could give us that would make schools and our members’ lives better. If they want a deal, they’ll work with us on those things.”

She added: “We want this resolved. We don’t want to start the school year without a contract.”

No strike

Agreeing to a one-year deal now would mean no repeat of the 2012 teachers strike  — which according to the current time-table wouldn’t happen until late fall or early winter.  It also gives the district time to find long-term solutions to its budget problems while the union could work on its own  internal organizing around future contract proposals. This year’s contract negotiations were slowed by both the CTU’s and City Hall’s focus on the mayoral elections.

In its initial proposal, the union had asked for a one-year contract with a 3-percent raise. The district’s first proposal sought to end a decades-old contract agreement to “pick up” 7 of the 9 percent payment union members must make into their own pensions.

Any tentative agreement reached between the CTU and the district must go to the union’s House of Delegates for approval in what would likely be an emergency meeting before heading to members for a final vote.

Earlier this week, CTU President Karen Lewis told the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times that the union was close to reaching a tentative contract, surprising many rank-and-file members that the pace of negotiations had quickened so much in recent weeks. On Wednesday afternoon, CTU sent a message on Twitter stating that “no contract is final until vote by CTU House of Delegates, ratification by 24,000 active members.”

  • Sick & Tired

    CPS proposal is a bunch of bull. CPS spend millions of dollars each year funding charter schools and AUSL schools, so why is it that the teachers and workers at regular schools have to suffer?? THE CTU has climbed into bed with CPS and the whole setup stinks!! I hope CPS turns the knife in the back of the CTU very slow so they’ll know they’ve made a big mistake not giving workers a raise.