Here's What Chicago Teachers Won & Lost In Contract Deal
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis (c.) and Vice President Jesse Shakey (r.) are advising teachers to start saving for a possible strike.
CHICAGO — Eight months ago, the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union was prepared to accept a new contract that would have forced all teachers to pay more for their pensions and health care insurance and would do nothing to reverse hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to classrooms.
But that deal — touted by Chicago Public Schools officials as a fair sacrifice — wasrejected out of hand by the union as unacceptable, a decision that would bring the city to the brink of a teachers strike that was averted at the last minute.
"There's no doubt that it was a gamble," Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey said. "Our people, our members accepted that risk. It was a fraught period of time."
A comparison by DNAinfo of the tentative agreement inked Monday and the agreement rejected Feb. 1 found the union won significantly more resources for classrooms across the city while maintaining — and in some cases expanding — lucrative perks for teachers and support staff members by forcing CPS to renegotiate the pact while threatening to strike.
In total, the deal means about $300 million more for schools, including compensation for teachers and programs for students, Sharkey said.
"There is no doubt we achieved concrete victories," Sharkey said. "But it is not the best contract ever."
The tentative agreement will be reviewed by the union's House of Delegates Wednesday, and then submitted to the union's rank-and-file membership, including nearly 30,000 teachers and support staff members for ratification.
CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner said the deal was "fair to both sides."