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by Tom Sharpe
Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2003 at 7:38 AM
An open letter to Chicago Public School teachers
AN OPEN LETTER TO CTU TEACHERS
The CTU is now in the final days of negotiating your contract that will affect you for the next one top four years. Despite promises on both sides not to negotiate in the media, the Board of Education has already done so by leaking information and by making statements intended to sway the general population. The board and the mayor’s office have given out the following: 1) the city, county, and state governments claim to be operating at a huge deficit, that there is not enough money to meet current contracts, that government employees are being laid off, that taxes must be increased just to stay even; 2) Peer review of all teacher staff will be initiated this year; and 3) The board of Education’s central office has been “reorganized” to streamline it and make it more efficient.
Below are some facts that not only contradict the above information from the mayor and the Board of Education, but provide the rationale for why we should have a just and viable contract in hand before returning to work in August.
* The Board of Education’s “Reserve Fund” still has over $160 million in cash that may be used for any purpose, including to finance the pay increases for union members.
· Approximately 200 classroom teachers have lost their positions during the summer break; teachers are receiving phone calls at home from principals informing them they have no job. The number is climbing daily.
· City, country, and state workers have much better health, dental, and other benefits packages than do CTU members, and they pay less for them.
· Teachers and the Union were not consulted as to whether they wanted peer review. Despite making public statements to work more closely with the union,
· The Board of Education has once again done something “to the teachers” and not “with the teachers”.
· The last Union contract got teachers a small 3% pay increase but resulted in an immediate loss of jobs, loss of major bargaining rights, and an increase in class size.
· Every teacher in a union, outside of the city of Chicago, has a better pension, more bargaining rights, and more job protection than CPS teachers under the old contract. To continue working under the old contract leaves us more vulnerable than other teachers in the state.
· The reorganization of the central office did result in some firings. But several new offices and departments have been established, along with the hiring of new high-priced administrators, the hiring of personnel with little or no teacher experience, and the creation of dozens of non-teaching jobs. Overall, this has increased the net budget in Central Office.
Remember that our firefighters and CTA workers were bargaining in good faith. The result: They have gone over 1500 and 1200 days, respectively, without a contract. Don’t let this happen to teachers!
Do not sit by and let the politicians force feed you another second- rate contract. Stand up and speak out for your rights before it is too late.
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