I just finished reading Steven Ashby and Robert Bruno’s book on the Chicago Teachers Union and the 2012 strike, A Fight for the Soul of Public Education.
It is a worthy read that also covers the past quarter century of Chicago school reform and the role of the CTU in rethinking the role of teacher unions and the fight for social justice.
It includes the dramatic negotiations involving Senate Bill 7.
Recall that Senate Bill 7 did a number of things that set back public education and teacher unionism in Illinois.
It undermined teacher seniority right and tenure rights.
It demanded that teacher evaluations be tied to individual student performance on tests and other performance measure, aligned with the Performance Evaluation Reform Act. PERA was drafted and enacted as law in order to comply with the Obama Department of Education’s requirements for funding through Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top.
Illinois Education Association executive director Audrey Soglin chaired the committee that drafted PERA.
SB7 also changed collective bargaining right for Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union.
Ashby and Bruno:
(Stand for Children’s Josh) Edelman claimed in his Aspen talk that when a serious divergence in views emerged over actions to address a bargaining impasse and the right to strike, “the IEA pressured CTU to take the deal.” The IEA did have a pragmatic view of the negotiations and realized that some kind of agreement had to be reached. (page 100)
The IEA’s pragmatic view, along with pressure from the Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery, got agreement that required the CTU to get 75% membership approval for a strike vote. The requirement only applied to the Chicago teacher union.
Over the course of two contracts, the CTU has never had a problem with exceeding the 75% requirement. Yet the requirement remains a state interference in internal union governance and is intended to undermine union collective bargaining rights.
I am now hearing that part of the discussions going on in Springfield to reach a budget agreement includes expanding the 75% strike authorization to the rest of the state.
In my previous post I wrote about the state coalition of public employee unions decision to have their members do nothing about contacting legislators about these discussions.
“Be prepared to act quickly,” wrote Jim Reed, the IEA’s chief lobbyist.
Turtles have been known to move more quickly than the IEA and the union coalition. It tends to end badly.