Lessons from the bargaining table. They are ALWAYS broke.


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.

14 Replies to “Lessons from the bargaining table. They are ALWAYS broke.”

  1. “…They are telling Ms Lewis to shut up. I know Ms Karen Lewis.That ain’t going to happen”: “I know [Mr. Fred Klonsky]. That ain’t going to happen [either].” We are grateful for both of you!

  2. The national is the entity that can go broke only by design because it gas the monetary authority. States less so than ciites…large and small business and people and families can go broke…and realky for tge same reasons….just no income either because yiu cantvsell or raise revenues or …dont want to…..or you spend and borrow to a level you cant sustain. Unless you are locked into ideology you can see where most state entities are. Illinois has an idioic property tax funded education system and a small state flat tax that will always leave it in crisis. At the higher ed level we face long term declines that require some rational planning and not the insane meat cleaver of no funding and the IBHE shut dverythingbdown plan. Onbthe corporate level you could be facing collapse in sales….like seems to have been the case of Haegar Pottery or you could be a nursing home taken over by GTCR that had its money drakned out and its residents left to fall down stairs.The Trib will always give us one version. ……The CPS was given extra funding to help cover its pension but under Mayoral control those payments were not made. The first step here should be to get CPS out of the hands that caused this.

  3. “City’s own financial corporate giveaways and mismanagement”…………Yeah, like basketball stadiums for Depaul, Space Museums, Presidental Libraries, Maggie Daley park, lush landscapped medians down Halsted…..etc…..etc…But the City is broke. Well, the city is broke when it comes time to pay the help. There is a difference between can’t pay and don’t wanna pay.

  4. Who takes guidance in their thinking from the Tribune? I consider it a newspaper looking for a readership since they flip flop on most issues. If Karen Lewis ran for mayor tomorrow she would win.
    Perhaps the Tribune needs to shut up until they get their facts straight.

  5. In 1969 it took 38 years to reach the top of the pay scale.Now it takes 13 years.
    I fully agree step raises should be abolished.A one or two year probationary period
    at reduced salary then full pay.

  6. There is no doubt, whatever, that, had Ms. Lewis been able to run for mayor, today we would be calling her Mayor Lewis.
    By popular vote.

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