Is an outrageous 20 percent pay hike enough for greedy Chicago public school teachers?

The Chicago Teachers Union will be mulling over the up-to-20-percent  pay increase that the arbitrator Edwin Benn arbitrator has outrageously recommended.

Confirming earlier Chicago Tribune reports that Benn would recommend a 15- to 20-percent pay hike, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said the recommendation would  go to the union's house of delegates for a decision. Observers have said that both the Chicago Public Schools and the CTU would reject the recommendation. Leading to the question:

What the hell do the teachers want?

Reported the Tribune:

The fact-finder, whose full report is expected to be released to the public Wednesday, recommends that teachers be given a 2.5 percent cost-of-living wage increase and a 12.6 percent additional increase “to compensate teachers for working a longer school day,” Lewis said.

The fact-finder reviewing issues related to CPS and CTU contract negotiations said teachers will have to work an average 19.4 percent more hours because of the longer school day and “CPS cannot expect its employees to work 20 percent more for free,” Lewis said. [More details and rationale for the greed are found in the CTU's statement.]

This is incredible. Truly a fantasy land.

How often are we told by the teachers that they spend a lot of time working outside of the classroom, correcting papers and tests, preparing lesson plans, counseling students and speaking with parents. (See this report about the "invisible workload of teachers.)  If that's true, Benn's math doesn't add up if his calculation of 19.5 percent more hours is based exclusively on classroom.  The base (classroom time plus out-of-classroom time) on which the percentage increase is calculated would be a larger making the 19.5 percent disproportionately high. The first question I would have to ask is how did Benn come up with his calculation of hours worked. And this talk of more money to cover the cost-of-living increase--what cost of living increase?

In any case, doesn't the financial condition of the school district enter into the calculation? Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard will be hard-put to come up with the money to cover the school's $665 million budget deficit. The budget already raises city property taxes to the maximum level allowed by law.

Has the CTU gone too far this time? Do they really think that Chicagoans will sit tight or support a strike for such an appalling increase when their own taxes are going up and their own pay is stagnant--assuming they still have a paycheck. Not to mention the appalling performance of Chicago public schools.




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  • This is a truly outrageous article. You have little understanding of the situation at hand. The CTU would most likely accept this offer from the independent fact-finder if it weren't for SB7. However, for the fact-finder's suggestions to become a contract *both* sides must accept the offer. It is clear that CPS will reject the fact-finders report, thus nullifying the recommendations. If the CTU were to accept the findings (and CPS reject them) they loose their right to strike and CPS can impose their last best offer, which is a contract gutted of work rules, job security and salary guidelines. The CTU's rejection of the fact-finding report is not about the report itself but is in response to SB7 and the games it requires all parties to play. The solution is for CPS to open-up permissible topics under SB7 (things like class size, other work rules, and job security) which cost them little money and for the CTU to pull back even further than the fact-finder's recommendations on money. This is the likely outcome unless CPS still refuses to bargain on these permissible topics in which case the union has the right to strike.

    Before you go and bash the union you should have knowledge of the situation which you clearly do not have. I guess in the age of blogging anyone is an expert.

  • In reply to Evan Velleman:

    Basically, what you're saying is that the teachers are acting in their self-interest, which is what unions are supposed to do. Understandable. But what teachers already have and what they want in addition in these times of financial hardship for everyone else is outrageous. Talk as much as you want about class size and other red herrings, but the failure of the union to understand that the public has had enough is amazing.

  • What I was saying is that SB7 has pushed the CTU and CPS into this situation. And again, it just goes to show how little you understand the situation when you call class size (or other work rules) a red herring. Go ask teachers what they'd rather have: work rules that respect them as professionals and protect them from vindictive principals or a 15-20% raise. I'd be willing to bet 9 out of 10 choose the work rules. But in this situation CPS has refused to bargain over these work rules and instead has pinned the situation on salary (Again due to SB7). But enough about what the real issues are here because I'm pretty sure there's no convincing you that teachers aren't just a bunch of lazy, greedy, self-interested fools.

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