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College and careers

An overhaul of the district’s career education programs seeks to make classes more challenging and put career-track students on the path to higher ed, but many schools have lost programs, and fewer students are participating overall.

For the Record: Injunction to stop a strike?

With a teachers strike perhaps only days away, one weapon that CPS could use to end a walkout is a court injunction: A section of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, added to state law during the 1990s, indicates that if a teacher strike “is or has become a clear and present danger to the health or safety of the public” the employer can ask for a legal injunction to stop the strike.

But the law states that “an unfair labor practice or other evidence of lack of clean hands by the educational employer is a defense to such action.” The Chicago Teachers Union, likely looking to strengthen its hand, announced Wednesday that it had filed unfair labor practice charges against CPS with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.

It’s a move that had been in the works since Aug. 30, when the CTU House of Delegates set a Sept. 10 strike date. “(The delegates) determined they were striking both over the contract, and over the unfair labor practices,” CTU attorney Robert Bloch says. 

The charges stem from the fact that CPS did not pay teachers step increases this year, implemented a new teacher evaluation system, and stopped the practice of sick-day payouts—all of which were illegal, the CTU argues, without negotiating them in a new contract. The union is also charging that CPS “is refusing to arbitrate grievances (and) give the Union relevant information, and has intimidated teachers who engaged in informational picketing at James Monroe Elementary School.”

As Bloch pointed out Wednesday, employers are prohibited from hiring permanent replacements during unfair labor practice strikes. CPS has said it does not plan to hire teachers to provide any teaching during the strike.

It’s not clear what the standard would be for a dangerous strike—though the city is now experiencing a troubling upsurge in shootings and homicides—or how much of a defense the unfair labor practice charges would be.

“There is no case law on any of it,” Bloch says. “It is total uncharted territory. There is nothing more to go on than what the law says.” Most of the states that allow teachers to strike have similar provisions in their laws, Bloch adds, “where under certain circumstances the employees can be ordered back to work.”

Jonathan Furr, a lawyer who was part of the negotiations over Senate Bill 7 and who is the director of the Office of Educational Systems Innovation at Northern Illinois University, says that “the alleged unfair labor practice would weigh against the potential danger to the public” in a judge’s consideration.

As for whether a judge would stop a strike? “My understanding is that it’s generally a fairly high bar,” Furr says. “That being said, I think there could be a strong case to be made, particularly in Chicago.”

32 comments

Anonymous wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

What about CPS putting hundreds of students in schools if a

stike, that the students do not go too? 1900 little student schduled in in one school that only hold 800! No air-conditioning either!
Who's zoomin' who?

Anonymous wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Please--while schools have been open there is an 'upsuge' in

shootings and murders. (Charters have been open btw-)
Stop putting that on the schools and its teachers. This is on Rahm--period.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Spare me. Rahm's not the one

Spare me. Rahm's not the one going on strike.

Danny V wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Rahm deserves the blame

Spare you what? The truth? No deal, anon.

Rahm picked this fight. He's always had the power to end it, but he chose not to do so. He deserves the blame for the fallout from a disruptive strike.

mediocre teacher wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Things could get nasty

I hope I'm wrong, but the union may have miscalculated. We're in the worst economy since the Great Depression and in a toxic atmosphere for collective bargaining. Most parents I have spoken with are not prepared for a strike and see the demands for pay raises as removed from reality. This past year we saw Indiana become a "right to work" state, voters keep anti-union Governor Walker in Wisconsin, and now groups in Michigan are slinging mud at labor's attempt to get collective bargaining in the state Constitution. Selectively edited and skewed stories in the media and online about the greedy teachers' strike harming poorly educated and at risk children in Chicago could be just what the Right needs to make Illinois the next state to fall in the anti-labor battle.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

pareents

Parents at my school who are poor support us. Its the rich ones who dont. Go figure

Anonymous wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Sorry Danny V. The union

Sorry Danny V. The union asked for a strike and members chose to authorized it. Nobody else did that. That's the truth.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Ha!

What else was the union supposed to do? Rahm wants to fundementally change the pay, career and professionalism of teaching by removing language about class sizes, makin top down curriculum decisions, closing good schools and firing amazing teachers in the process, and push out veteran teachers that make too much. Should the union just bend over and take it because your fearful butt in the private sector is too afraid to stand up for yourself. We are 20,000 strong, and we won't let the mayor ruin our profession.

urbanteach wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Medicore teacher...

That would be the case if all we were fighting for is compensation...
If we lived by the philosophy in this great nation that when the going gets tough...the tough do nothing... we would never have seen any change. Those who don't support the actions of teachers I don't believe in my heart arrived at that just by the actions of a strike notice. And, BTW, I think we are already in the anti-labor battle. It is anyone's right to disagree with the actions of our union, especially if they have never taught a day in their life or entered a neighborhood school drained of resources, but I think they may lack a little perspective.

Don wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

"makin (sic) top down curriculum decisions"

So you're looking for bottom up curriculum decisions? Leaders get to lead. If you want leadership responsibility, run for office or work your way up in administration. Few people outside the CTU are interested in the CTU managing schools through a labor contract.

Joyce Carr wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Other Unions Stike

Teachers are not the blame for the crime in Chicago. If that is the case; who is responsible for the adult crime? Teacher's striking is just used as an excuse for Cps to override the problems imposed upon the teachers by Cps. You are suppose to strike for your rights. And Cps not honoring grievances in arbitration is unheard of. Ctu , fight VERY hard for THOSE rights. A lot of tenured teachers have lost their jobs by unsatisfactory ratings being PLACED on teachers; just to get rid of them. Of course; they mad higher salaries. Their lives have been changed; disrupted; shamed; nerves wrecked. Feelings that they have betrayed the children. It has made a lot of the tenured teacher's lives a living hell. Yes; CTU stick very stern to your support for your teachers who have lost their jobs . If Cps has done that to some teachers; it is certainly underminding others. This is very sick. Principals know those teachers were not unsatisfactory. They just caused them to lose their jobs for their own gain. The sad part about it is; it is not going to end there. Before it is over; a lot of those Principals will lose their jobs. Wait until the town becomes completely chartered. What should have been done at those low performing schools; is the Principals should have been given Unsatisfactory. Now the economy has more layoffs. And growing. And blocking arbitration grievances? I don't think so. Ctu; get out there and don't give up until you win THIS right. This is the big one. Those illegal and falsified layoffs should be rescinded. There are a lot of things Principals did not do right; and they should be laid out in the open. What do they have to hide? A lot. This is why they don't want arbitration. These teachers deserve a right to be heard. A right to fight for what has been unfairly done to them. A lot of these teachers are innocent. That is what hurts the most. Lost their jobs of no fault of their own. Lost their jobs because of a single word. A career they paid for and worked hard for like the rest of the teachers. Now their careers have been robbed away from them because of senseless greed. Yes; arbitration HAS to be granted. CTU do not stop until you get it. Teacher's fair rights NEEDS to prevail.

Rod Estvan wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

re: mediocre teacher comment

Your concern for the context of a strike given the current economic conditions are legitimate. But there is clearly another side to this issue. The CTU may right now be as strong as it could be expected to be for carrying out a strike given the ongoing privitization of schools and the existing law that does not allow charter schools to be part of the CTU operating under a joint contract.

Moreover, why would one assume that down the road the employment situation for teachers will improve? I understand what is called in economics the Phillips curve which is a historical inverse relationship between the rate of unemployment and the rate of inflation in an economy. As part of my education I learned about the equilibrium wage, about John Maynard Keynes theories of unemployment, Karl Marx's theory of the reserve army of labor, and other theories of unemployment.

We can use all of these theories and come away with a relatively longer term contraction in the employment of public teachers, inclusive of those in the charter sector. So I would ask Mediocre teacher when exactly in the future would it be strategically wiser for the CTU to strike if it has to? Or is your recomendation that teachers lay low, accept relative reductions in pay to their actual working hours, and just be glad to have any job. By the way the CTU leadership has never promised teachers they will walk away the winners if this comes down to a strike, they have promised to fight for the collective interests of those educational workers they represent and to use all the tools they have in this fight. I think its very fair to say that the union has told its rank and file membership that their chances of winning a contract that perserves some of their existing rights and does not lead to a relative decline in wages is only possible if they stick together. That for sure is rational advise.

Rod Estvan

Anonymous wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

parents

Parents who are union members support us.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

I am a parent and not a union member

I support the teachers.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Greedy

Over and over, you don't understand. It is not about money. Its about how CPS squanders their money. They do not invest in schools or children--schools without air conditioning, overcrowded classrooms, not enough staff for special ed and regular ed supports, outdated books, not enough books, schools without libraries, schools without playgrounds, schools without recess, music, art, language. Borrow money from teacher retire to balance budget and never pay it back. Of course its no different than the federal government. Lastly, its not about money for salaries. We (teachers) are not allowed to address many of those things above (by law). So we are left with money. We hope to push money so that they open a discussion about those more important things. I know many colleagues that will forgoe raises for appropriate resources that most schools in the country recieve. Once again things like books, reasonable class size, adequate staff, variety of staff, appropriate equipment and buildings. I don't want more money I want a safe place that supports the best environement for our children to learn. CPS does not have this.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Reply to Don

Top down curriculum? Might be ok from leaders if the leaders were educators. They are all businessmen and women. Maybe if the board were elected like in, overwhelmingly, most other districts. Then those members might be educators. You have to go to the bottom where educators are to find the curriculum.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Just look at the picture--all with their heads down!

Was there not over a $1,000,000 in that elevator tonight? (Not counting Vitale.) Alas, George will be right--BBB will be in charge soon enough.

Ughmg wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Brizard Positive Comment (kind of) from Union Member

I am a union member but want to point out, who cares if Brizard attends the negotiating team? He does not have to be part of that process. As a matter of fact given the emotions attached to him by us, it is better he does not attend. We all ask someone else to represent us. We have a team, they have a team. We all have a stake.

mediocre teacher wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Urban Teacher

I've read a lot of news articles that state something like "the teachers are demanding better pay and..." Over the summer right wing bloggers were posting "Chicago teachers want 30% pay increase." In the public's mind, this is a strike about teachers wanting government to spend more on education, especially teachers' salaries and benefits. I agree we're already in an anti-labor battle. At the moment it's focused on education. Besides the Republicans, labor now has to contend with Democratic mayors, many parents and even Hollywood. Most opponents of the union feel confident to criticize because they spent 13 or more years dealing with schools as students and often more as parents. It's therefore hard to explain the differences between the needs and challenges of schools in the suburbs and schools in Chicago.

mediocre teacher wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

re: Rod

From an economic view, the supply of teachers in Illinois is much greater than the demand. Even so, Chicago and Illinois teachers are paid above the national average. Teachers and paraprofessionals in nearby states have seen more lay offs, falling wages, and increased costs for benefits. A strike in Chicago that is perceived to be about teachers wanting more money during a recession is going to turn the popular opinion against the union. Even if we succeed in getting the Board of Ed to meet the union's demands, there is the likelihood that a year from now Mayor Emanuel will simply declare the district has no money and the courts will break the contract, forcing teachers to accept longer hours for less pay, less job security, and more charter schools.

Ughmg wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

re:Mediocre Teacher

So because its a hard fight and an unpopular one we should accept whatever is offerred?

George N. Schmidt wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Brizard or somebody needs to be the closer...

The reason Brizard (or somebody of his rank) has to be at the table when the negotiating items are passed back and forth across the table (so to speak) is that someone has to be the "closer" just like in the old days when you bought a home with a mortgage.

One of the problems with the CPS side of the table, as I've been reporting (and now the Sun-Times has sort of caught up on) is that their side of the table has been, sort of, loose and silly. Now that Tim Cawley has been disappeared it may be a little better, but not yet by much.

The Rahm Board of Education made it nearly impossible for any teacher paying attention to support a contract longer than one year. That's right, ONE YEAR. The reason took place at the first meeting of Penny and David's Board. They took a Power Point from Tim Cawley that was filled with lies and voted after purring about it to cheat the unionized CPS workers out of the four percent raise that was due — by CONTRACT — in the final year of the five-year contract Marilyn Stewart had signed in 2007.

After that, the Board went on a tear as if nothing was going to stop them. "Pioneer Schools" paid all that extra money (from where? weren't they broke?). ULPs everywhere. Just about every Board meeting, someone from behind their revolving door or out of town non-entities who were hired because they give good Power Point (a new talent for hires in certain professions in the French Quarter, I hear). Month after month, the Board meetings got more ridiculous.

So what does that mean in the face of the fierce reality of today?

The CTU leadership can't agree to a contract longer than one year because nobody trusts the Board. Nobody (not even many of their own minions, as we learn every night when we open the mail). At best, CPS gets a two-year deal.

But in order for that to work, CPS has to have someone at the table with the power and authority to actually sign off on the closing of the deal. Maybe that person is David Vitale, but probably not. And that person certainly never was Tim Cawley (at least they've disappeared him). All Beth Swanson can do is call her master regularly, or text him, on that cell phone she needs to keep charged.

And if anyone is going to claim that Barbara Byrd-Bennett can be the "closer" on a Chicago deal when six months ago she was still destroying the Detroit public schools, well...

So...

Brizard needs to be there. After all, as "Chief Executive Officer" of CPS in 2012, he is the highest paid public school official in Chicago history. The "CEO" is usually the guy (or gal) who has that power in corporate America, and that's our model...

Sure...

Rod Estvan wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

re: deal with CPS

A one year deal can be reached for some type of reasonable salary increase for teachers and CPS can reduce the pass along of health care costs to effectively make a salary increase real. More than that I honestly don't know. The 4% lost last year probably should not be a factor because the union could very likely win some of this back based on on going litigation. CPS' problem here is a declared an fiscal emergency, but they paid all vendors 100% of what was owed, including charter schools, they also ended the year with funds in the bank which they propose to use this year.

As most CTU members are aware the fact finder in his report did not support a multi-year contract beyond two years as a resolution for just the reasons mediocre teacher notes. Based on my own examination of the CPS fiscal situation I would if I was a teacher only want a one year contract because beyond that promises are just that promises. I know going through this again in a year sound like hell, but maybe that is the situation public sector workers are in now.

As I stated in my original comment there is nothing on the horizon that would indicate an up turn in public sector employment (including the last jobs report issued Friday) no matter if the Republicans or Democrats win in November so striking now rather than waiting makes the most sense if it comes to that in the next few hours. Teachers can't just hope if they ask for nothing they will fall under the radar screen, the cross hairs are on them, and they have no choice but to fight back.

Rod Estvan

Don wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Mayoral Elections

It doesn't seem that Rahm would be willing to do a one or two year deal unless he planned bankruptcy and he was confident he could get it. He can't have this mess close to his reelection campaign.
I don't see an injunction. It's too complicated to predict what the end game looks like after a move like that from CPS.
Does Rahm plan to somehow make a more expensive CTU contract work within the current familiar structure of schools and finances? Perhaps he's been sufficiently traumatized by central office disorganization that he will back off further major changes for now.

Ughmg wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

Brizzard

I guess I just decided Brizzard is a buffoon and a puppet so, who cares if he is there. I also think he is going to be a scapegoat for this so that Rahm can salvage his power? ability? reputation?

George N. Schmidt wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

CTU has had one-half-year and one-year contracts

As we've reported at CORE and Substance, CTU has had contracts that have lasted as briefly as a half year, or one year.

A contract demands that both sides be capable of good faith. After leading a year and a half of teacher bashing, Rahm cannot expect to get any sane teacher to believe he will keep his word once we are back to work. As Karen said on Labor Day, he's a liar and a bully (not just that he has told a few lies and bullied once or twice).

I have covered every Board of Education meeting since the RahmBoard took power and held its first meeting on June 15, 2011 (the special meeting where they voted to welch on the four percent raise). The only Board meeting I was not at was July 2012, and I missed that because I was preparing to testify in the union's lawsuit on the four-percent raise.

That testimony is about current events. I had reported (after the June 15, 2011 special board meeting) when Tim Cawley told the Big Lie about the "Cop Costs" on June 15, 2011 that the increase in the Cop Costs by $70 million was a decision by the Board to break two contracts. First, CPS only owed Chicago $8 million for 2011 - 2012 for the Cop Costs — according to the most recent intergovernmental agreement at that time. What they did, two months later, was voluntarily give up their right to pay the Cop Costs of $8 million and increase it by more than $70 million.

The entire four percent raise would have cost only about $100 million during the 2011 - 2012 school year. So they voted not to pay a contract they had — sticking it in the eye of every CTU member and the members of the other unions — and to give more money than they were required to Rahm's side of the bookkeeping.

Three months later, Rahm had been beating the drum lying that Chicago had the nation's "shortest school day" (It was much more nuanced than that, despite all the Hollywood script discipline) and attacking the teachers with statements like "The kids got the shaft". Then in September Rahm insulted every teacher by offering that bribe to the teachers at the 13 schools that later became known as his "Pioneer Schools" (you could not make up this Stalinist nonsense; they will probably force Five-Year Plans on every province before this is over).

The union organized against that, and the Pioneer Schools were insulted most of the year (despite an end of the year publicity stunt at Disney II praising the LSD and featuring the worlds youngest teacher praising it).

A contract requires two sides.

Rahm's side can't be trusted.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

EXACTLY! Right on!

EXACTLY! Right on!

too educated and experienced to be kept working by CPS wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

my little teaching autobiography & several comments

1) I don't understand why teachers would be implicated at all in a possibility for increased shootings during the strike. Any justification for such an implication sounds insane.
2) The statement in the news that AVERAGE CPS teacher salaries are as high as $76K begs comparison with MEDIAN salaries. Now we discover in a comment above that admin position titles were changed to "teachers" ~ good grief ~ so were those high salaries thrown into the average?
As a laid off CPS teacher, I personally know more than a handful of experienced tenured teachers who have been replaced with new grads in an attempt to cut costs which has nothing to do with serving the best interests of students.
3) I earned social security for close to 3 decades as a community educator in other fields and then in 1995 began teaching in a progressive alternative HS on the southside. I contributed to the CTPF for a decade when alternative high schools were turned into charters. The pay was so poor at the charters, I then borrowed to earn an IL TYPE 09 cert and my LBS1. My first FT non-temp CPS teaching position was at Collins HS which I knew was headed for closing when I took the post. It's a beautiful renovated building on Roosevelt that now houses 3 charters. I was unable to get hired after that - perhaps, because I was viewed as coming from a closed school or perhaps because my pay lane was #5 due to education. So many schools were being closed and teachers scrambling that I was also at a disadvantage of being in the CPS system for just a few years and didn't have a lot of contacts/networks. I did my year of CPS subbing: getting up at 5AM, to wait for the call, finding my way to more than 2 dozen different HS and elementary schools where I met a lot of older experienced teachers subbing like me during our lunch room duty. Then after a couple of very bad experiences at charters - one of which closed its HS after the first year and went back to focus on elementary - I filed for my CTPF pension because I was 62. All of this autobiography to say that I get $700/month from my CPS teachers pension and my 3 decades of social security is cut in half because my pension is considered a windfall by the IRS. I lost my studio condol mortgage I'd hoped to have paid off by the time I was 70 and now live in CHA senior housing, get SNAP, frequent free food pantries, and do PT tutoring. I will be 65 in 2013. Not exactly the "high life" many people believe public high school teachers enjoy. When my deferments run out on my education loans for certification, social security can deduct up to 15% to pay off those loans....
4) Public high school teaching was the most challenging work I've ever done - intellectually, emotionally, and physically. But like so many teachers have said, it wasn't the students that wore me down, it was continuing admin incompetence and professional disrespect within the CPS system.
5) I taught high school for more than 15 years in Chicago's impoverished urban neighborhoods.
My message of support to CTU and striking teachers is "Don't Give A Inch."

Labor Lawyer wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Why Rahm's Quest for Injunctive Relief is a Loser

Who is advising Rahm to file for an injunction? He needs a better attorney.

Rahm can try to get an injunction, but it doesn’t smell like a winner.

(1) Students are not endangered because of the strike but because of the dangerous conditions of the city. No proof that student deaths, or injuries of any kind, have come during school hours during the strike. In fact, there's plenty of evidence that proves the danger is after school would be out of session, besides. There are reams of stats from this summer and just look at this weekend's shooting totals. The violence in Chicago cannot be tied to the teacher's job action.

As to the health of students, thanks to the city's "children first" centers, any child who needs a meal can get one. Thus, the impact on student health is de minimis.

(2) The union has consistently said that it is not striking over prohibited issues. the union is striking over compensation and working conditions. However, the union will give up money to have the other issues on the table. In fact, the union has come a long way from initial demands of $$$ and from the arbitrator's recommended pay increase. By tying the issues of evaluation and recall into a compensation trade off, the strike is legal. The feds do it all the time. The feds have no jurisdiction under the Constitution to control educational matters. To do so, the feds must tie money to the mandate. You want Title 1 funds, then you have to comply with NCLB. You want Race to the Top funds, then you do this. It's analagous to what the CTU is doing.

(3) Unfair labor practices: there's a good chance that the CPS will be found to have violated law by imposing new working conditions on teachers when the CPS needed to follow the old agreement until a new agreement was hashed out.

On an interesting side note, looking at another CTU v CPS suit, the teachers have a very strong chance to winning back the 4% the board took away. The evidence so far doesn’t show a financial emergency. The CPS has to open its books, and what the CTU lawyers are finding isn’t helping the CPS case at all. Wouldn't that be a kicker?

I'm not sure how Rahm and his advisers thought this would play out, but from a legal standpoint, his team is really making a hash of this.

Labor Attorney with 18 years of experience in the trenches. (please feel free to forward this to the CTU attorneys. I hate to see someone pretend the law is silly putty to be bent to his will, like Rahm apparently feels).

Ryosuke wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

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