Chicago Teachers Union Wins Victory in ‘Longer School Day’ Dispute

CPS agrees to stop violations of collective bargaining rights

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–November 4, 2011.  At the conclusion of an eight-hour negotiation session Thursday with Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, Board of Education President David Vitale and officers of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), an agreement was reached  to end  the Board’s efforts  to convert  more CPS schools to a longer school day schedule this year.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel participated in part of the session held at city hall that included CTU President Karen GJ Lewis, Vice President Jesse Sharkey and school board officials.

The settlement puts an end to CPS’ current campaign to lengthen the school day this school year by negotiating directly with employees represented by the Union.  The Board also agreed that for the remainder of the 2011-2012 school year it will not seek waiver votes at any additional schools beyond the 13 that have already converted to new hours, subject to the outcome of Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge in Case No. 2012-CA-0009-C.

Both parties agreed to immediately ask the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board (IELRB) to withdraw its request to the Illinois Attorney General for injunctive relief.  It also states that if the Board violates this agreement the IELRB’s general counsel may request that the Attorney General file a motion for a preliminary injunction and that the Board will not object to the IELRB’s request.

The agreement, however, does not circumvent the pending ULP hearing before the IELRB on the merits of the complaint scheduled for December 14 in Chicago, nor does it force the 13 schools to revert back to their old schedules unless there is a ruling from the IELRB following the hearing or the Union and Board reach a further settlement.

CTU took issue with CPS’ waiver campaign that included financial inducements and other methods of coercion for teachers if they signed away their wage privileges in exchange for a one-time, payment of $1,250 to $700.   On October 20 the IELRB ruled 5-0 in favor of seeking an injunction against CPS and sent the matter to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

“This is a major victory for our students, parents and teachers who understand that a longer school day should be a better one—and that involves planning before implementation,” said Lewis. “This agreement stops what would have been a costly and protracted legal battle against the Board of Education.  Now that this distraction has ended we can plan for a better school day for our students when all schools switch to extended schedules next year.”

CTU was not opposed to a longer school day, contending the issue was a moot point.  Instead, labor leaders and teachers instead called for a “better school day,” one that included a rich, broad curriculum, smaller class sizes, upgrades to school facilities and compensation for teachers and paraprofessionals.  

“This victory is for all unions and members, not just the CTU and the hard working teachers and paraprofessionals who proudly don our name,” she continued. “It reaffirms what the future should look like for collective bargaining in Illinois, and that CTU will be at the table helping to craft the future for our 400,000 students.”