Following yesterday’s meeting of the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates, a strike vote has been set for September 21 through the 23rd in members’ home buildings.
This past week Chicago teachers began their second teaching year without a contract.
One major issue is the proposal by the board to cut teacher take-home pay. A pay cut would result from an increase in the teacher contribution and a reduction in the board contribution to the pension fund.
According to CTU President Karen Lewis, a pay cut at a time when the challenges facing teachers requires more from all of them is unacceptable.
Lewis said teachers are being undermined because of the cuts in education funding. Therefore it is not acceptable to ask teachers to take a pay cut when they are having to teach larger classrooms without the help of aids or fine arts teachers, which were let go in droves, the union said.
This will be the third strike authorization vote by Chicago teachers since Senate Bill 7 was passed in 2011 by the legislature and signed by Democratic Governor Pat Quinn.
SB7 was the brain-child of school reformer Jonah Edelman and his astro-turf group, Stand for Children. SFC still operates in Illinois and around the country, funneling tens of thousands of campaign dollars to legislators who support their corporate reform, anti-union agenda.
One of the provisions of the law was that Chicago teacher union members were required to vote for a strike by numbers exceeding 75% of their membership.
In a video taped at the Aspen Institute, and which was first posted on this blog, Edelman explained how he bamboozled the state’s union leadership, the IFT and the IEA, into supporting the bill.
After I posted the video, Edelman was forced to write me an apology.
In the apology, he addressed the issue of the super-majority strike vote requirement for Chicago teachers.
There will be more transparency in the contract negotiation process statewide, which will hopefully lead to fewer divisive conflicts and better, more student-centered decisions, and Chicago Public Schools’ will be able to lengthen its school day and school year in order to give teachers more time to help students learn and to plan and collaborate.
Well, that never happened. Chicago teachers went on strike in 2012 following a strike vote of over 90%.
This coming strike authorization vote will be the third since Senate Bill 7 demanded a 75% vote by CTU members. It will be the third time the vote will exceed 75%.
What the corporate reformers (and apparently some state union leaders) don’t get is that divisive conflicts between teachers, the Mayor and the board won’t stop by restricting or removing the right to collective bargaining, including the right to strike.
In fact, those kind of legal restrictions only serve to encourage divisive conflicts.
It will only come through good-faith bargaining and a fair contract.