June 5, 2012Dear Teacher,Last Friday, Karen Lewis advised the media that CTU would conduct a strike authorization vote in ourschools beginning Wednesday, June 6. I want to take this opportunity to share some concerns I haveabout moving forward with a strike vote at this early point in the contract negotiation process. I also
want to address a flyer distributed today and intended to influence member’s votes that includes
information about CPS proposals that is grossly inaccurate.As you know, CPS and CTU are in the middle of the collective bargaining process established in therecent Illinois Education Reform Legislation (SB7), created by CPS, CTU and other union leaders andeducation stakeholders across the state. This legislation, carefully crafted by a diverse group of stakeholders, was specifically designed to foster negotiation and avoid a strike. Moving forward with astrike authorization vote at this time undermines the intent and spirit of the law, as CTU memberswould be voting to authorize a strike before allowing the independent fact finder to complete his
process and release his compromise proposal on July 16. It’s very important that everyone is informed
of the facts surrounding proposals that have been made at the bargaining table. Fir
st, CTU is asking for this authorization to strike based upon CPS’s initial salary offer which wasmade in response to CTU’s demand from CPS for a 24% increase on July 1, 2012 and a 5% increase
on July 1, 2013 (which equates to an increase between 27% and 39% with steps included). With aprojected $3 billion deficit over the next three years, we cannot afford a 30% raise, but teachersdeserve a raise and will receive one that is fair. How much that raise should be is in the hands of anindependent fact finder. Asking CTU members to authorize a strike
an authorization they will not beable to take back
before that process is complete and a recommendation is made is premature,disrespectful of the process, and does not allow teachers to make an informed decision when voting.
Second, I am very disappointed by the CTU leadership’s inaccurate and misleading representations
made to its members and the public about the proposals that have been made by CPS. More concerningis the fact that members have been asked to authorize a strike based on these false and misleadingclaims. Contrary to what CTU has said publically:
CPS is not changing its class size policy and has told CTU this repeatedly.
CPS has maintained the class size monitoring panel to enforce class size limits.
CPS has enhanced staffing levels by maintaining quota positions and giving schools anadditional $130 million in discretionary funding that can be used for additional staff positions.
CPS has offered teachers significantly more planning and professional development time forboth elementary and high school teachers.
CPS has offered CTU members a recall right to assure additional job security (which thecurrent agreement does not include).