Sunday, August 9, 2015

Back to drawing board for contract negotiations | Catalyst Chicago

Back to drawing board for contract negotiations | Catalyst Chicago:

Back to drawing board for contract negotiations

CTU President Karen Lewis said Friday that CPS's request to take away the 7-percent pension pick-up from teachers was "strike-worthy."

CPS has pulled back from its offer of a one-year contract extension that would have retained the so-called “pension pick-up” and barred the opening of any new charter schools during that period without union approval.
Instead, CPS is now seeking a multi-year deal that would phase out its longstanding agreement to pick up 7 of the 9 percent educators pay toward their pensions.
Eliminating the pension pick-up would “force us into a strike,” said Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis. (Given all the steps required for the CTU to strike, a walkout could not take place until winter, at the earliest.)
“We are concerned because we were very close to finalizing something,” Lewis said at a press conference on Friday. “That rug was pulled out from under us and the district has mischaracterized what led to their rescinding the offer -- and why is beyond strange to me.”
Union officials said they had entered a regularly scheduled bargaining session on Thursday with the intention of working on issues related to teacher evaluations and layoff order -- something Lewis had spoken with Mayor Rahm Emanuel about over the weekend. But then CPS negotiators abruptly pulled out of the negotiations, according to the union.
In a statement, CPS officials did not directly address the issue of the pension pickup -- part of a labor agreement reached in the 1980s, in lieu of a pay increase. But getting rid of that benefit may help bolster the cash-strapped district’s petition for pension relief in Springfield.
Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he’ll help push through legislation to help CPS deal with its pension obligations, but only if the city will support some of his efforts to limit unions’ collective bargaining rights.
In a statement, CPS officials said they will continue to negotiate in good faith to “reach an agreement on a broader and longer contract that is beneficial for our children, their teachers, the taxpayers and the entire system. However, we will not roll back standards for teacher performance, and we will make sure that our highest-performing teachers can continue to serve in classrooms.”
The district says the reason for its abrupt reversal is that it could not agree with a CTU proposal to group some tenured teachers rated as “developing” with those rated as “proficient” or “excellent” for the purpose of layoffs. (Under the former contract, which expired at the end of June, “proficient” and “excellent” teachers are the last to be laid off and then it is done by seniority.)
“In our view, these proposals would irreparably undermine the effectiveness of our evaluation system,” CPS attorneys Joseph Moriarty and James Franczek Jr. wrote in a letter dated Thursday,after a regularly scheduled negotiation session. (See CTU's letter in response.)
“Obviously, this process can always be improved, but we strongly believe it would be a serious Back to drawing board for contract negotiations | Catalyst Chicago: