Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Brash leadership......which will eventually lead into bankruptcy court!

CTU seeking most ‘ambitious’ demands ever in new contract, wants bargaining done in public
The current contract expires this summer. On top of raises for staff, the union wants help for unhoused students and more dual-language education.
By Sarah Karp | WBEZ
Apr 16, 2024, 4:57pm CDT

Chicago Teachers Union President Stacy Davis Gates, shown at an October rally for striking workers, outlined her union’s demands on Tuesday for upcoming contract talks.

With a mayor on their side, the Chicago Teachers Union laid out what they are calling a “transformative” contract proposal Tuesday that goes way beyond bread-and-butter union issues as it looks to get the city to prioritize affordable housing for unhoused families and have all students taught a second language.

And, unlike previous contracts, hashed out behind closed doors by school district officials and union members, the CTU wants these talks to take place in public.

“What we are going to do is engage this entire city of Chicago in a negotiation that we will be doing in the front yard,” CTU President Stacy Davis Gates declared at a news conference kicking off the union’s contract campaign. “We will be inviting families to participate, our students to participate. We will be inviting Chicagoans who believe that this is the greatest city on Earth, to participate in building the greatest school district on Earth.”

Davis Gates said she envisions negotiations being streamed so all could watch. A CPS spokesperson said the district looks forward to learning more about the public bargaining request.

The current CTU contract expires June 30, but a new contract likely will not be settled by then. There are more than 700 contract proposals in what the union is calling its most “ambitious” demands ever. Negotiations have been lengthy and contentious in years past. Talks are expected to have a different tenor this year, now that Mayor Brandon Johnson, a former CTU organizer, leads the city.

Davis Gates stressed that while many proposals focus on securing investments in students and schools, the union also will push for raises for staff, especially the lowest paid workers, such as clerks.

“In this country, we don’t always honor women, and 80% of this profession are females and … they deserve to get their fair share,” she said.

The union has not publicly shared copies of its proposals, and Davis Gates did not put a price tag on how much the CTU contract would cost the school district, joking that it is about “$50 billion and three cents.” But cost will likely be the biggest barrier to agreement on many issues.

With federal COVID relief money running out, the school district faces a $391 million deficit. It recently sent budgets to schools that district officials say should maintain current staffing levels, but which do not account for staff raises or other expenses that could be part of a contract agreement.

School district leaders and CTU officials, as well as the mayor, say the state should provide more money. According to the state’s own formula, CPS is underfunded by more than $1 billion a year. But the state also has its own financial challenges and neither the governor nor lawmakers seem interested in providing the type of increase CPS would need to afford the proposed contract.

After Tuesday’s news conference, CTU members went on a trolley ride that included a visit to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s downtown office.

Many of the union’s demands are similar to what was outlined in Johnson’s transition report.

Among the biggest asks is a proposal to expand sustainable community school programs. These are expensive programs, costing $500,000 per school, that provide programming in neighborhood schools based on input from students and parents.

Uriel Bandera, the coordinator for the community schools program at Richards High School, said they determined they wanted to focus on expanding fine arts programs. This led to the creation of a jazz club and to students teaching other students how to play multiple instruments.

“Every time I see them it puts a huge smile on my face, because of how passionate they are,” he said.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4/20/2024

    Note that students are interested in STEM employment and 80 percent of the teachers are women who are not interested in majoring in male dominated careers such as science, technology, engineering, math, medical, economics, accounting, and so on. That is the crisis that needs to be addressed because students need qualified teachers to prepare them for those careers.

    How will the union address that shortage of qualified teachers to the public?