Points of Contention
The Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools have met a total of 46 times in an effort to find a compromise both sides could swallow. A fact-finder was also brought in over the summer to find a solution to the conflict. The fact-finder told the Chicago Sun-Times that the relationship between the two sides was “toxic.” Some of the points of contention that have not been resolved include:
Pay Raises: The Chicago School Board has offered teachers a deal that includes a two-percent pay increase each year over the next four years. The deal would cost CPS around $160 million. However, the teachers union has repeatedly said that increase is unacceptable to teachers, who have requested a four-percent pay raise.
Step and Lane Increases: Currently, Chicago teachers receive “step” increases, which are salary increases based on experience. “Lane” increases bump up teachers’ pay based on extra credentials teachers earn. The school board wants to put a halt to such increases, which typically equal about 3.5-percent increases each year. The teachers union finds that unacceptable and “insulting.”
Additional School Hours: Rahm Emanuel pushed to extend the public school day by around 40 minutes to bring Chicago schools in line with the schedules of schools across the country. Teachers refused to work the additional time, particularly in light of the fact they were seeing little if any, increases to their paychecks. This point was settled by allowing schools to bring in additional teachers to cover the extra time.
Smaller Class Sizes: Teachers want to cut down on the size of classes in schools throughout the district, but the school board says there is no money for the additional resources that would be needed. The union also wants schools to add more wraparound services like school counselors to serve the neediest population of students. Again, in a district that is already cash-strapped, additional services and resources seem highly unlikely.
This video reports on the Chicago Teachers Union demands in 2015.
Is a Strike Inevitable?
Despite the fact that delegates for the teachers union voted to approve an intent-to-strike, and the fact that the form was signed, sealed and delivered by union president Karen Lewis, that doesn’t mean a strike is necessarily imminent. Both sides are continuing to negotiate, in hopes that Chicago school children will not be left without a classroom to go to so soon after the start of the academic year. However, the teachers union fully admits that it is mad and it’s not going to take any more from CPS.