Teaching Profession

Chicago District And Teachers Avert Strike With Tentative Contract Deal

By Denisa R. Superville — October 11, 2016 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Chicago school district and the city’s teachers’ union struck a last-minute deal on a contract shortly before a midnight deadline and averted a strike that was set to begin this morning.

The deal came after a marathon negotiating session on Monday, as well as sessions through the weekend. Union members had been set to picket beginning at 6 a.m. on Tuesday.

Shortly before midnight on Monday, Karen Lewis, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union, announced that the two sides had reached a tentative agreement. The union last struck in 2012, staying out of classrooms for seven days.

Lewis said the union was able to get a “commitment” from the city’s Board of Education on class sizes, layoffs, continuing contributions to members’ pensions, and other provisions she said would make the classroom work better.

It was “not a perfect agreement,” she said.

“What we found is that what we ended up with is something that’s good for kids, it’s good for clinicians, it’s good for paraprofessionals, for the teachers, for the community,” she said.

The tentative pact, which has to be approved by the union’s House of Delegates and full membership, covers four years and runs through June 2019.

A major area of contention going into the last-minute negotiations was the fate of the so-called pension pickup. Under a long-standing policy the district paid 7 percent of union members’ pension contributions, while the union members paid 2 percent. The district wanted to eliminate the practice, which had been negotiated years ago in lieu of wage increases, and the union had consistently objected and threatened to strike over it.

In this new proposal, the district will continue the pension pickup for current CTU members. However, members hired after Jan. 1, 2017, will not receive it.

But Lewis noted in her remarks to the media that there will be a phased-in increase in the base salary to help make up for the loss of the pick-up for new members.

According to the tentative agreement, the base salary will increase by 3.5 percent after January and then by another 3.5 percent after July 2017.

Steps and lanes will also be restored. The proposal also contains a 2 percent cost of living adjustment in 2018 and 2.5 percent in 2019.

The proposal also includes changes to union members’ health insurance plans and an increase in their contributions towards their premiums.

Beginning next semester, a teacher or instructor assistant will be assigned to K-2 classrooms with more than 32 students. The pact also calls for more money, up to $7 million a year during the contract, to go to overenrolled K-2 classes.

The board must discuss with the union any decision to contract for certified nurses and alternatives to doing so.

Teachers who notify CPS of their intention to retire by March 31, 2017 will be eligible to receive a one-time lump sum bonus as part of an early retirement incentive. The district is hoping that at least 1,500 teachers sign up. A similar incentive, though with a lower dollar value, is available to other union members.

The proposal also includes an agreement to hire a mutually agreed upon expert to review the district’s teacher-evaluation system.

The board will no longer require, by the 2017-18 school year, that special education teachers take on case management responsibilities. The contract also calls for the district, in cooperation with the union, to develop a plan to limit special education teachers’ workload.

The two sides still have to work out school schedules that will allow full time elementary teachers at least 15 minutes of preparation time at the beginning of the school day, by January 2017.

Lewis conceded that the union and district would have to continue working on some outstanding issues during the year. The union, for example, wanted more social workers in schools.

Teachers were ready to walk off en masse on Tuesday. Many had picked up pickets signs at a union hall on Monday.

The union, in February, had rejected a proposal from the school district. Some provisions from that rejected offer—including a commitment to a charter school cap—remain as part of the tentative agreement.

The union had also called for the city to use surplus proceeds from a special financing tool, known as Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, to go toward the schools.

A mayoral spokesman confirmed to Chicago media that Mayor Rahm Emanuel planned to increase the amount of TIF funds going to CPS. The Chicago Tribune reported that CPS could get at least half of the $175 million in surplus TIF funds.

Emanuel is expected to clarify that in his budget address on Tuesday morning.

In a hastily assembled press conference at City Hall after the contract deal was announced, Emanuel said, according to the Tribune:

“The teachers’ hard work will be respected in this contract, and appropriately rewarded. Chicago Public Schools’ finances will be stronger and on firmer ground because of this agreement. Parents and taxpayers will be relieved, and more importantly, reassured, that we all came together to work together with a common purpose.”

Emanuel was flanked by CPS officials, including School Board President Frank Clark, District CEO Forrest Claypool, and Chief Education Officer, Janice Jackson.

Image: Parents and schoolchildren demonstrate near Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home on Oct. 10 to show support for Chicago Public School teachers.

--Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune via AP

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession We Feel Your Grief: Remembering the 1,000 Plus Educators Who've Died of COVID-19
The heartbreaking tally of lives lost to the coronavirus continues to rise and take a steep toll on school communities.
3 min read
090321 1000 Educators Lost BS
Education Week
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Educators Have a Responsibility to Support the Common Good
A science teacher responds to another science teacher's hesitation to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
1 min read
Teaching Profession With Vaccine Mandates on the Rise, Some Teachers May Face Discipline
With a vaccine now fully FDA-approved, more states and districts will likely require school staff get vaccinated. The logistics are tricky.
9 min read
Grace John, who works at a school in San Lorenzo, gets a COVID-19 shot at a mobile vaccination clinic run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state in Hayward, Calif., on Feb. 19, 2021. California will become the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. The statewide vaccine mandate for K-12 educators comes as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns of the highly contagious delta variant.
Grace John, who works at a school in San Lorenzo, gets a COVID-19 shot at a mobile vaccination clinic in Hayward, Calif. California is among those states requiring all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
Terry Chea/AP
Teaching Profession In Their Own Words Why This Science Teacher Doesn't Want the COVID Vaccine
Contrary to public health guidance, Davis Eidahl, an Iowa high school teacher, has no plans to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
4 min read
Davis Eidahl, a science teacher at Pekin High School in Packwood, Iowa, says he doesn't want to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He thinks social distancing and occasional masking will be sufficient to keep himself and others safe.
Davis Eidahl, a science teacher at Pekin High School in Packwood, Iowa, says he doesn't want to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He thinks social distancing and occasional masking will be sufficient to keep himself and others safe.
Rachel Mummey for Education Week