Now that the Chicago Teachers Union has set October 11th as their strike date if no contract agreement is reached, it is the time of the trolls.
The same flakes who think Trump won the debate, Obama was born in Kenya and evidence of climate change is made up by the Chinese, believe teachers get paid summers off.
It is true that for regular folks, teacher salary schedules and pensions, tenure and seniority rules and all the rest of the stuff that goes into contracts can be confusing. And Mayor Rahm’s board of education, although unelected, acts the same as every school board when negotiating. They bargain partly at the bargaining table and partly in front of television cameras and reporters. They tell the public that they are offering teachers a 13% pay raise and too many reporters are too lazy to check the math.
Fox’s Chris Wallace may have spoken for many who claim to be reporters when he said that journalists aren’t fact checkers.
From the standpoint of a retiree, I don’t look back all that fondly on my many times on my suburban union local’s bargaining team. It is true that I learned a lot of things I never thought I would learn, or care about learning them. I ended up learning and caring, because it meant something to the members who elected me to do the job.
About summers off. A troll recently wrote to tell me that I should stop complaining about teacher salaries, which are low compared to comparable professions, because we got summers off, not realizing apparently that summers off were days without a paycheck.
Most teachers can choose to receive their salary spread out over 12 months, but unlike administrators, it is payment for around 180 days. Not 12 months.
Teachers work on a per-diem. No paid holidays. No paid vacations. If the legislature decides to close schools for Fred Klonsky Day, I would be honored of course, but the district just adds a day at the end of the school year. Nobody would be paid for my honored day.
That was just one flaw in Rahm Emanuel’s demand for a longer school day in the 2012 bargaining. He thought a longer day or a longer school year should be a freebie. Rahm’s mind works like that.
Are the trolls who want teachers to work a 12-month contract ready to pay for it? I think not.
I remember one bargaining year when we asked that teachers be allowed to use sick days rather then personal days for religious observance. Sick days and personal days are a unique benefit in that it is a benefit that only costs the district money if the benefit is used. The days are reported out to the press as part of the economic package, but most teachers don’t come close to using all of them and so they accumulate. We only received three personal days – days to use for stuff that we couldn’t take care of when we weren’t at work. If a teacher was Jewish, Muslim or whatever, they were supposed to use a personal day to attend observances. We felt that policy was punitive. We weren’t asking for additional days for any particular religion. Schools were already closed for Good Friday and Christmas. It just seemed reasonable to be able to use a sick day instead. There were more of them.
Incredibly, we spent many bargaining sessions going back and forth on this issue.
Then there was the issue of domestic partners.
Our contract allowed for sick days to be used for bereavement. If a family member passed away, a teacher would call in and rather than claim they were sick could explain that a family member had died and they needed one or a couple of days to make arrangements and grieve.
But due to the board’s past demand, there was a limit on the number of bereavement days a teacher could use.
They apparently thought the grim reaper was a party to our negotiations and could be held accountable to contract rules. There could be no more than two family deaths in a given year.
Long before the courts ruled in favor of marriage equality and domestic partner laws, we tried to bargain language that included domestic partners as people who were on the list of family members covered by the bereavement clause.
The idea that a teacher could take a day to mourn the death of their Gay or heterosexual partner was clearly shocking to our board members. And trust me. This was not that long ago.
We finally got the board to agree to add “member of the household” to the list of people who teachers could take a day and grieve their loss.