Keeping retirement weird. Per diems, personal and sick days.


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.

11 Replies to “Keeping retirement weird. Per diems, personal and sick days.”

  1. My gosh Fred. You are a chronic complainer. If teachers don’t like it they can always go into the private sector. If someone in the private sector doesn’t like their job and benefits they apply for a different job at a different company. Teachers don’t do that because they like to play the martyr.

    1. Since when is stating facts complaining?
      The off school property hours that a teachers para professionals work are not realized by the public. They are never compensated. My husband was a school psychologist. He was asdigned thousands of kids. There was not enough time in the day to see them much less write up evaluations afterwards which he did every night for hours and all day on Sundays.
      For free. For years.

  2. I am tired of uninformed people screaming about how we get “summers off with pay.” Our work days do not begin and end with the bells.

    How many of us are working 50- 60 hours per week during the school year, and not getting o/t pay?
    So let’s calculate how many hours of unpaid o/t equals: Working 50 hours per week and using a 36-week long school year, that comes out to 360 hours, or 9 weeks, of unpaid work and o/t. Working 60 hours per week and using the same 36-week school year, it comes out to 720 hours, or 18 weeks, of unpaid work and o/t.

    These numbers are only an approximation, and do not include the time spend over winter, spring and summer breaks doing planning and professional development.

    The uncompensated summer and winter breaks is a helluva dead for the public, since they don’t have to pay the time-and-a-half for all those o/t hours we accumulate during the school year.

    Memo to RahmCo and his Hedge Fund pals: Shut your greedy, venal, prevaricating pie holes..

  3. I think you all better look for a different school district! I got paid every month and I only worked 185 days!!! Please do not try to tell me you put in all that time, maybe in the being!!!! But, after you have your act down..come on!!! Fred you update your K 3 art cir every year??? B.S. Fred!!! We have it made in teaching!!!! Stop whinng!!!

    1. If you think teachers are paid for the months they don’t work you are either stupid or lying about being a teacher. Maybe both.

      1. I can’t believe you’re a teacher and I have to explain that your district took your 180 or so per diem pay and divided it into 12 monthly payments. Trust me. If you were released in June you could file for unemployment. You wouldn’t have to wait until September.

  4. You don’t see football players, firemen, doctors or any other profession as degraded, examined, evaluated, re-evaluated and condemned for being full of money grubbing morons than teaching. Why? So many people are so self-centered and petty. One would say this is proof that our teachers are failing. I would agree if you recognize the fact that first teacher we all have is our parent and many are not good teachers.

  5. K-12 teachers are majority female. That is one issue. The other issue is that the degrading and vilification started and is encouraged by big business and moneyed elite who want education dollars. This has been going on for about 20 years so now many common idiots who know nothing about education join in the fun. Teachers are some of the most underpaid professionals. The hedge funds and the charter owners are trying to push salaries lower so that there is more $$$ for themselves. They follow the strategy that if you say something long enough, the fools will believe you.

    As to all the extra time put in by teachers, the classes that need to be taken (at your own expense), the papers to grade, the reports to write, the referrals to make, the plans to write, ad nauseum are all done on personal time. Most professionals have support staff. Teachers do not. CPS especially can only exist on unpaid time and money coming from every teacher in the system. All the reports, whether needed or idiotic nonsense demanded by CPS, are all done on personal time. Most materials including books, paper, pencils, copy ink cartridges, staples, etc. all come from personal bank accounts, not from CPS.

    The constant vilification of teachers is beyond disgusting. It is encouraged by the latest group of “reporters” who fill their time and space with their own opinions, ignoring facts that are easily uncovered if only they would ask. Remember the SunTimes reporter who was a teacher for about 2 years, then went back to the newspaper because she needed to send her child to college and teaching wasn’t cutting it for her. No money and too much work. I wonder where her voice is right now?

  6. As usual, people who sat in a classroom as a child think they know everything about teaching. We make too much money, we only work ten months, we get Christmas and Spring break. We work six hours a day. How hard could it be teaching their adorable and brilliant children ? They think every day is a fun-filled day and that we should be willing to spend time with their children for almost nothing.

    I recently read an article that said that on average, five students in a classroom are mentally ill and aren’t receiving treatment. Half or more of some classrooms are multilingual. Some have thirty plus students in them. Some live in homeless shelters and others don’t get enough to eat. Some come to school not dressed for the weather. Some are being abused at home. Let me tell you, these kids break my heart. The fact that I can go to work at all when facing these challenges to try to make a difference in these children’s lives is worthy of a livable salary.

  7. Reblogged this on Mister Journalism: "Reading, Sharing, Discussing, Learning" and commented:
    October is National Anti-Bullying Month
    by kavips
    Sadly the Trump atmosphere has permeated public schools. Bullying is on the upswing and the bullies are invoking the name of Donald Trump in their endeavors.

    Groups affected are women, Hispanics, blacks, and even Asians… We all know why this is so. Children imitate their parents. and none of us have been immune to the television and YouTube clips showing America at its finest (not)…

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