Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chicago Update: Merit Pay off the Table, But Not Attempt to Eliminate Salary Steps

Lewis and CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said CPS still wants to stop giving teachers extra pay for extra experience. Such “step’’ increases have been a part of the CTU contract since 1967 but are facing increasing scrutiny nationwide. “Eliminating steps is a big deal,’’ Sharkey said. “Proposing to take that away essentially means a first- and a fifth-year teacher are going to be paid the same and we think that’s an unacceptable outcome. . . . Teaching is a craft in which gaining experience improves practice.’’ ---Sun-Times
UPDATE from Lois Weiner:
AFT President Randi Weingarten showed when she headed the union in  New York City that she would give away everything and anything that mattered in having quality schools in exchange for paltry salary increases. My hunch is that she'll be using all the power she has to pressure the CTU to settle for the same kind of contract she negotiated in NYC.  I don't think Obama wants a strike of Chicago teachers, so he'll be putting pressure on his guy Rahm to settle on money. Weingarten will be doing the same. [see below for Lois' complete article from New Politics].
New York teachers have to watch Chicago ed deform leaders to see what's coming here. This update has the interesting nugget that Rahm is looking to eliminate salary steps, the logical outcome of ed deform which declares a first year TFA with 5 weeks training can be as effective as a 10 year vet.

UPDATE: 3:30PM
Before you read the Sun-Times article, first see what Lois Weiner has to say about how the anti-union media reports the story:

New Politics:

The bottom line for Chicago teachers?

Lois Weiner September 6, 2012
As the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) holds fast to its strike deadline of Sept. 10, negotiations continue.  It's always risky to trust reports in the mass media, especially the virulently anti-teachers union media that we have today, about what's happening in negotiations. They want to see the unions discredited, and one way to do that is to cast teachers as greedy and selfish.

 So we should be taking the recent article in the Chicago Sun-Times about negotiations as another salvo in the propaganda war against teachers.The article reports only on aspects of the contract dispute that take up teachers' wages and benefits. In contrast, what has made this mobilization of Chicago teachers so powerful and exciting is the CTU's commitment to locate demands about teachers' economic well-being in a package that addresses what needs to be done to give Chicago children the schools they deserve. 
The union has done this remarkably well in its report about the "apartheid" conditions in the schools.  During my recent visit to Colombia, teachers in Bogota told me that their union should be issuing a similar report. The Chicago Sun-Times article illustrates that Chicago's power elite wants to make this struggle fit the mold of a "traditional" labor dispute, one that might be settled by giving a tiny bit more money to teachers. What the bankers, corporate chiefs, and politicians that do their bidding want is complete control over what children learn. The bigger picture that is often ignored in the US is that this is a global project, one spelled out in World Bank reports, to reduce education to vocational training, accomplished through the "accountability" of standardized testing. Yet, there is world-wide resistance to this project, little news of which appears in the popular media, and this global context frames the struggle in Chicago. CTU's leaders face enormous pressures, so I was relieved to that a bargaining update on the union's website still contains the CTU's demand for "A 'Better' Day—with Art, Music, World Language, Physical Education and other services like counseling" and lower class size.   Certainly the union needs to fight for job protections and re-hiring teachers who have lost their jobs in school closings. Its struggle for the salary and economic benefits teachers deserve is essential. But it must also hold onto the demand for lower class size and restoring the subjects and services students (and their teachers) need so very much.Chicago's teachers should expect no help from the national union (American Federation of Teachers) in holding fast to what Chicago's students deserve. AFT President Randi Weingarten showed when she headed the union in  New York City that she would give away everything and anything that mattered in having quality schools in exchange for paltry salary increases. My hunch is that she'll be using all the power she has to pressure the CTU to settle for the same kind of contract she negotiated in NYC.  I don't think Obama wants a strike of Chicago teachers, so he'll be putting pressure on his guy Rahm to settle on money. Weingarten will be doing the same.  The question is whether CTU's courageous and dedicated leaders will have the confidence in their ideals to lead Chicago's teachers in a new direction, one that will show what can be won when a teachers union really stands up for public education and so wins support from parents and students who deserve better schools.
Chicago Sun-Times:

Chicago Public Schools teachers: Monday strike date still on

BY ROSALIND ROSSI  AND STEFANO ESPOSITO Staff Reporters September 5, 2012 4:34PM
Story Image
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, talks to reporters Thursday after Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates unanimously agreed to strike starting Sept 10. August 30 2012. I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Updated: September 6, 2012 2:23AM

Chicago Public Schools officials freshened their economic offer to teachers Wednesday but teachers union officials immediately labeled the deal “unacceptable’’ and held firm to a Sept. 10 strike date.
CPS didn’t budge from its May offer of four years of 2 percent raises, but for the first time it formally dropped the requirement that the fourth-year raise be tied to a form of merit pay and “differentiated compensation,’’ Chicago Teachers Union officials said.
“I have some reasonable news: The board has moved off of merit pay,’’ CTU President Karen Lewis told reporters after the union’s House of Delegates held its monthly meeting. But, Lewis said, “We have some . . . problems we are very concerned about.’’
Lewis and CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said CPS still wants to stop giving teachers extra pay for extra experience. Such “step’’ increases have been a part of the CTU contract since 1967 but are facing increasing scrutiny nationwide.
“Eliminating steps is a big deal,’’ Sharkey said. “Proposing to take that away essentially means a first- and a fifth-year teacher are going to be paid the same and we think that’s an unacceptable outcome. . . . Teaching is a craft in which gaining experience improves practice.’’
Teachers leaving the union’s House of Delegates meeting Wednesday evening said a Monday strike date is still on.
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1 comment:

  1. The Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association, a membership of approximately 300 teachers located on Long Island, will be wearing red on Monday in support of our brothers and sisters in Chicago: http://thepjsta.org/2012/09/06/pjsta-members-please-wear-red-on-monday/

    Additionally we contributed money to their solidarity fund.

    ReplyDelete

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