Photo credit: Fred Klonsky
I received a handful of emails over the weekend asking if I had read Friday’s Tribune editorial with their faux congratulations to Ms Karen Lewis for getting re-elected by acclamation to lead the Chicago Teachers Union for a third term.
The Trib, like the rest of the Chicago media headlined their original reports as the CTU having cancelled the election, as if Ms Lewis had been installed by some kind of a coup.
One local corporate mouthpiece who runs a national reform blog compared Ms. Lewis to Russia’s Putin and likened democracy in the CTU with Chicago’s unelected school board.
This all reminded me of the days leading up to the CTU’s April 1st Day of Action when the Trib, Sun-Times and the rest of Chicago’s corporate media sent reporters out looking for scabs, hoping to find plenty.
On April 1st, the strike was 99% effective with all but a handful of members walking out.
I can’t get 99% of my family to agree on where to sit in a movie theater, and now days that’s just Anne and me.
So, the Trib offers their grudging congratulations to Ms Lewis and then tells her what the union’s bargaining position should be:
Take what they give you and shut up.
Fact 1: The district is broke. It can’t afford significant teacher raises.
Fact 2: The district is broke. Teachers need to accept a phaseout of a lavish 7 percent pension payment pickup that the district no longer can afford. (The district still would pay the employer’s share into the pension fund; the district is asking employees to pay their share.)
Fact 3: The district is broke. “Step and lane” raises that reward teachers who earn more degrees or add a year of seniority need to be scaled back if not eliminated.
Ah. The lavish 7 percent pension payment pickup.
It’s not my contract and the CTU bargaining team and members will decide on what they think is fair and affordable. However, the pension pickup was bargained to save CPS money back in the day. It replaced money that would have gone into the base salary of employees.
Let me tell you about the district being broke.
I have never bargained a contract, and we are talking about a Chicago suburban district, where the board comptroller didn’t sit down at bargaining table and hand us a graph showing that the budget would be in deficit in five years even with no raises.
I’m not saying there is a ton of money, what with the Governor holding the state’s budget, the City and poor folks hostage to his anti-union agenda. And there is the City’s own financial corporate giveaways and mismanagement.
What the Trib and their bunch are saying to teachers is just to take what they’re not giving you and go home.
Why even continue to bargain?
They are telling Ms Lewis to shut up.
I know Ms Karen Lewis.
That ain’t going to happen.