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The race for City Hall

Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

For the Record: Teacher contract

CPS is currently in mediation with the Chicago Teachers Union for teachers’ next contract, the first new contract in five years. The new contract could have broad implications for how schools are staffed and the district’s ability to fire teachers. Click here for an interactive timeline of key events in the negotiations so far. Catalyst Chicago will update the timeline with negotiations-related events as they happen.

Though the district and the union began negotiating just a few months ago, they have been in mediation since around Feb. 1. Adding to the conflict between the union and the district is a law passed in 2011 that frees CPS from being required to bargain over the length of the school day and year, and requires 75 percent of teachers to authorize a strike.

But before a strike could happen, either CTU or CPS has to call for the appointment of a 3-person fact-finding panel, which has 75 days to suggest a default contract and make it public. If either side formally rejects the contract, there would then be a 30-day waiting period before teachers could walk out.

CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin says the union may call for fact-finding sometime during April if mediation does not resolve the dispute, but that it’s too soon to know if that will happen. CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll says she can’t comment on when CPS might call for fact-finders.



Danny wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago


"That makes a strike this school year unlikely"

I would think the fact that we have a contract through the end of this school year is what makes a strike this school year unlikely.

rharris wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago

Story updated

Thank you for pointing this out, Danny. We have updated the story to reflect this.

George N. Schmidt wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago

That raisin in the sun... 'Illegal" strikes and CTU strikes

Before anyone goes too far down the path of legality in Illinois in the post-Stand for Children era, at least know that half the strikes in the history of the Chicago Teachers Union were "illegal" under Illinois law. And that the first strike in the post World War II era by Chicago teachers — the "Concerned FTB" strike of 1968 — was a wildcat led by (mostly) younger black teachers against the discriminatory CPS "standards" for certifying and assigning full-time teachers to tenure track. That 1968 strike was doubly "illegal", since CTU President (at the time) John Desmond called the 1968 FTB strike a "wildcat."

Within five years, CTU had struck another three times (after the 1968 concerned FTB strike), in each gaining a significant contract (one that lasted only six months). The Chicago Tribune never stopped reminding its (then, as now) suburban readers how "illegal" all those Chicago teachers were being. But it was not until the 1980s that some semblance or collective bargaining order came into Illinois education labor relations.

But that was before lawmakers began singling out Chicago for what most Chicago teachers view as another example of "apartheid" — separate and unequal treatment in everything from collective bargaining rights to the right to strike. As Illinois moves towards additional strikes in the suburbs and downstate this month, Chicago teachers are asking why in Chicago you have to have a 75 percent strike vote, while in the rest of the state it only takes that majority which usually defines "democracy."


Maybe we're back to 1968, when a black teacher could last as a "substitute" for ten years, and never manage to achieve the "standards" necessary (viz., an oral examination conducted by a Board of Examiners consisting of old white people) to become "fully certified" and then "assigned" and finally "tenured." Between 1968 and 1975, those examples of discrimination were erased, thanks to the work of Chicago teachers, the leaders of whom acted "illegally" but certainly ethically.

And now we are in the "Post-Stand For Children" era. A little over a year ago, Stand for Children "raised" almost $4 million (in the 120 days between September 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010, with donations in huge amounts from guys and gals with names like Pritzker -- lots of them -- Zell and Griffin), bought a bunch of votes in Springfield, outflanked (briefly) Chicago teachers, and then, with a fully swollen head, bragged about how it outsmarted Illinois legislators and the CTU with SB 7. Jonah Edelman's video from the Aspen Institute is still available on line with the sorry history of that one, but it's really nothing but a throwback to the days of the 1950s and early 1960s when the racism was so thick against some in Chicago that it had to be broken with "illegal" activities. Someone else can savor how the name "Edelman" can morph from the old days to now, from reform to union busting reaction.

But I'll leave that piece of current events to the historians.

Oh, by the way. Within three years after the 1968 "illegal" strike, the first "illegal" one, the President of the CTU (who had said all those nasty things about the "illegal" strike and the strikers) was the former President of the CTU. John Desmond became a CTU lobbyist for the rest of his career, while some of the leaders of that "illegal" strike were helping lead the newly reorganized Chicago Teachers Union.

Thanks, Catalyst, for the timeline. Now wouldn't it be nice if Catalyst could figure out how so many laws in Illinois pertaining to the rights of Chicago teachers (and unions representing those who work in Chicago's public schools) are so, how shall we say this, "differentiated" from the laws that cover teachers in the rest of Illinois? Karen Lewis, the CTU leadership, and most of the African American leaders in Chicago are calling it "apartheid." Just like in 1968, when what is legal becomes grossly immoral (despite the blessings of guys named "Edelman"), something's gonna give.

Or, as Langston Hughes wrote ("Whatever happens to a raisin...")...


Chicago's teachers are being insulted every day at work by people who come in from outside Chicago with another round of super plans (the fifth or sixth in as many years, but don't you worry this one will work), nested in expensive crazy offices (this year, they're "Networks") with bloated salaries, and...

Catalyst ought to spend some time just trying to establish the time line of insulting curriculum plans and insulting Walk Through specialists and ask not what's going to happen, but why that raisin hasn't exploded sooner than now...

Anonymous wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago


Hey as a male teacher "the ultimate teacher minority" SB7 isnt looking very good for me either. In the last 4 years we have no hired ONE male teacher or staff memeber even though we have had probably 15 openinings? What comofort can you give me here? SB7 is in my opinion just an ANIT CHICAGO TEACHER bill...more than half are white and half black basically and lation as well. We are all screwed!!

Rod Estvan wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago

the 75% vote

George writes "Chicago teachers are asking why in Chicago you have to have a 75 percent strike vote, while in the rest of the state it only takes that majority which usually defines democracy." I think the bar is higher than that actually.

SB7 states "(2.10) for educational employees employed in a school district organized under Article 34 of the School Code, at
least three-fourths of all bargaining unit members of the
exclusive bargaining representative have affirmatively
voted to authorize the strike." Therefore, it is not just those who vote yes or no that count, it is also those who do not vote.

So if only 85% of the eligible bargaining unit members turn out for the strike vote, effectively 15% have already voted no. If the actual vote is then 89% in favor with only 11% opposed the strike vote fails because only 74% of the bargaining unit members affirmatively voted to authorize the strike.

George raises the question of an illegal strike. That is always possible but the penalty for an illegal strike could be up to decerfitication of the union. Given the position of Illinois courts on a number of CTU related issues I would not rule out the ultimate penalty for an illegal strike in the current climate. It's a huge risk.

Rod Estvan

statman wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago

states behind the reality of 75%

Here just a little chart to show what percent will need to vote yes for a strike. It shows if a given % of membership shows up, how many need to vote yes! After 74% of course it's impossible!!

percent %need to
vote vote yes
100% 75%
98 77
96 78
94 80
92 82
90 83
88 85
86 87
84 89
82 91
80 94
78 96
76 99
75 100

for every no is gonna be harder and harder. i bet Illinois new it was statistically impossible! come on! look at the numbers....we have such little chance. lets face at least 5% of the membership will not vote for various reasons! and some are gonna vote no! so the math!!

Anonymous wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago

Strike Authorization Vote

I think most people are assuming that a strike authorization vote will take place in one day. It is my understanding that this vote could be carried out over the course of a couple of days/weeks--SB7 does not mandate how the voting process must be done. If the vote takes days/weeks to complete, I can guarantee you that the number of non-votes will be quite small. This bodes well for the Union.

statman wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago


Before we had non tenured teachers who were scared to a lot of people will be scared to strike. It is gonna be very close if it does work out. : It is just INEVITABLE that some people will not vote or make an error. On top of those members who really dont want to stike, which is their right. It is gonna be very very very close!

If we do get the votes (assuming we want to stike due to a bad contract) I am predicting this scenario,

1) Rahm will some how claim that not all members voted (he will get his way) in the meantime we will have to work under his new "rules"

2) If we do strike and it is legit...his buddy Obambo will somehow break the strike in the name of the "children".

3) In the end SB7 has destroyed to CTU union. Tenure means nothing. When the strike is over...the already low morale will be even lower!!

BTW why do they still have Tenure?? Does it do us any good?

Danny wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago

Getting to 75%

It is my intention to hold a multi-day election and distribute a list each day with the names of members who have not yet voted. My hunch is those on a such a list will get lots of encouragement to vote from their colleagues. I realize that this may push some people to vote "no," but since not voting is already a "no" vote, we've nothing to lose by trying it.

If someone is out sick, we will have a pair of judges deliver a ballot to the home, if necessary.

We *will* get to the 75% threshold if the Union leadership calls for a strike vote.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago

Danny- I hope CTU does , CPS is getting nuts!

Rahm abuses teachers and other staff memembers for sure. anyone see huffungton post on Cheatum. WOW.

Rod Estvan wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago

regarding a multi day strike vote

I have already heard the idea of a multi-day strike vote, and it would be a good idea. But really there is no way to make teachers vote. There are CPS schools that currently rarely send any one to the house of delegates, what is the chances those teachers are really interested in voting for a strike? The union will have to think long and hard about calling a strike vote. If it fails you may be in worse shape.

It is possible to stay a while at impasse and have teachers experience having no work rules, being subject to whatever CPS decides the work rules should be. That could be a real motivation to go forward with a strike vote. During the impasse the union could work on getting SB7 modified to allow for a normal strike vote which might motivate CPS to settle. Being militant is good for a union when they are fighting for their life, but being both militant and creative is better.

Rod Estvan

Anonymous-to rod wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago

strike vote


Wouldn't it be better to get that law changed NOW? So that Rahm can't claim we are changing the rules as we go. Even though he dropped the Bunker Buster Bomb of legislation before he started his fight against CTU (IE SB7 and its "over 500,000" rule!!). I won't get into his residency! hahah


George N. Schmidt wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago

Mutli day strikes votes and changing the law

The rules for the referendum will be approved by the CTU House of Delegates, probably at the April meeting. At that time, all delegates will know how the voting will take place.

As to the question of changing the law now, CTU has a lot of things going in Springfield, as many reading this know. The main thing right now is that the majority of legislators (including Republicans) are being sensitized to the fact that Illinois, long before Wisconsin became a synonym for "union busting," has been singling out Chicago for discrimination in many laws. This form of apartheid goes back earlier than the Amendatory Act of 1995 (which instituted the current corporate school reform "status quo" that Rahm is complaining about, under Mayor Richard M. Daley) which gave Chicago mayoral control.

SB 7 was the end of a long discriminatory trail, and the word "apartheid" is not an overstatement of how Illinois has treated Chicago's public schools and specifically the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Cook County College Teachers Union (CCCTU) during these 17 years.

The laws that make Illinois a disgrace because of the apartheid treatment of Chicago will have to be erased from the books over time. The worst of those laws is, of course, the Amendatory Act of 1995, which has had 17 years to prove that mayoral control and privatization have failed. interestingly, as Rahm has been saying in an almost babbling way repeating the same talking points, we are facing a failed "status quo." But that status quo is the apartheid system Illinois imposed on Chicago's public schools (and the two Chicago teacher unions). So now, given the historical amnesia of our colleagues in the corporate media, Rahm can babble on about "challenging the status quo" and nobody calls him out about the fact that he is the heir to that status quo. Yet he plies his talking points with a corporate spin, as if the past 17 years never happened.

I'm sure the CTU members will surpass that insidious and discriminatory 75 percent threshold, despite all the millions of dollars in plutocratic largess that went into Stand for Children, Advance Illinois, the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, and the other oligarchical front groups that pushed through the laws we're now facing. If I'm right, the vote will be to authorize the leadership to set a strike date, which can then take place according to how negotiations are going.

Right now, however, the focus of a lot of political action is on Tuesday (March 20) when the primary elections are being held. No matter how much dismay was expressed (some of it aimed at me) over the CTU's primary endorsements, the key work this weekend is to nominate the people we will then elect before we return to Springfield for those legislative requests. Getting rid of the Amendatory Act will take hard work, but the time to do so is now.

Rod Estvan wrote 2 years 43 weeks ago

IL General Assembly and amending SB 7

It is not likely that the General Assembly will amend SB7 this session. In order for the members of the Assembly to reasonably consider an amendment to SB7 in relation to the strike vote rules for Chicago the law will have to be shown to be unreasonable and creating more problems than it is worth.

It is not in the interests of the Democratic Party to have the CTU broken, a broken union can support no Democrats. So this party has to be convinced it has more to lose by allowing the CPS to crush the union than it has by a teachers strike. An impasse and work rule crisis could help create a longing for bargaining parity and give some power back to the CTU. The CPS because it will grant the CTU no formal work rule rights at all during the current bargaining process can effectively be painted as anti-union and hostile. This can play into the hands of the CTU and the clear reason for the CPS bargaining stance are the provisions of SB7.

For at least the next several years the Democrats will hold the majority in Springfield and for the moment they hold the key to revising SB7. The Republicans would make Illinois simply a right to work state and would ban the right of all public employees to strike and effectively bargain. If they get the majority we are looking at the Greek solution to our state's budget crisis.

Rod Estvan

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