The Huberman Hammer

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This Greg Hinz column from Crain's (Huberman ready for hardball on city teachers' contract?) raises the long-rumored possibility that the Board could declare fiscal emergency and re-open contract negotiations with CTU over the salary raises and other benefits that are in the current contract. The justification would be the $900M budget deficit facing CPS 

Huberman:  "Our goal would always be to avoid a strike because of the hardship it
creates..."This budget year is going to be exceptionally
difficult. Without meaningful concessions by all the parties involved .
. . there will be a significant detrimental impact on our children."

What do you think?  Will there be a rollback?  Is that a fair thing to do given the challenges facing CPS and the city as a whole?  Would teachers respond with a strike?  (Could they?)

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  • Before asking if the teachers could, why not look at the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, especially Sec. 13? http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1177&ChapAct=115%26nbsp%3BILCS%26nbsp%3B5%2F&ChapterID=19&ChapterName=EDUCATIONAL+LABOR+RELATIONS&ActName=Illinois+Educational+Labor+Relations+Act. While there seem to be complications with an Article 34 school, that appears to have been during the first 18 months of school reform, 15 years ago. BTW, Article 34 of the School Code deals with the one school system with a population of 500,000, i.e. Chicago.

    There is a multistep process before the teachers can go on strike. However, if Huberman abrogates the contract, the Sec. 12 grievance procedure probably wouldn't be binding.

    Of course, the union could just file an unfair labor practice charge with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. Secs. 14 and 15.

    Interesting that teachers in Illinois have their own statute, and are not under the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, even though the two are not that different in this regard. One difference may be that under the IPLRA, essential public safety employees can't strike, but that's expressly stated in that Act to be limited to police, fire, and paramedics. Huberman tried to bamboozle the press that CTA unions can't strike, but not even CTA lawyers argued that when challenged in court. I guess he realizes that no such claim could credibly be made under the IELRA.

    However, the real question is why Illinois allows teachers to strike? One would think New York was a more liberal state, but their Taylor Law provides that not only public employees are prohibited from striking, but they are docked two days pay for each day of the strike. That seems essential in the teachers' context, as after a strike, the school year is always extended to meet the state minimum of days, so, essentially, striking teachers in Illinois lose nothing.

    With regard to whether the teachers have any incentive to make givebacks, unlike the library, and one assumes, the transit unions, there won't be the threat of layoffs if they don't, since otherwise people will start crying about the pupil teacher ratio and how all the "progress" in the past 15 years is being undone.

    So, as usual, there will be a lot of controversy in the press if Huberman tries to press this, but I don't think any real results. The schools (as well as everyone else) will just use this as another reason to ask Springfield* to raise taxes.

    ______________
    *Home of that great educator, Mrs. Krabapple.

  • The financial challenge CPS faces is self inflicted. It is a manufactured crisis intended to privatize education and demolish fair and reasonable pensions. The average annual pension payout in IL is around, what, $35,000? That's hardly exorbitant or outrageous. Had CPS simply paid into the pension system all along as required instead of taking a decade long hiatus CPS would not be in such dire straits.

    I believe that nearly all administration downtown should be removed. Eliminate everyone downtown not associated with payroll and direct distribution of funds to the schools. Do we really need 'curricular advisors' downtown? What the heck does a CAO do anyway? There is an incredible amount of waste, redundancy, and incompetence at all administrative levels of CPS. First, do away with the bureaucrats and let the principals run the show. Then, fess up to the gross financial mismanagement of the last 15 years. Then, find creative solutions that don't involve asking all the little guys (school employees) to sacrifice. Then, lobby your ass off to get more money from the Springfield legislative mopes. There is plenty to be done that does not involve pay cuts, teacher cuts, or pension reductions. Instead, CPS finds it easier and more beneficial to create a "crisis" as a mechanism to knock down the rank and file.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    I agree that all administration downtown should be removed. Most of them do not even know the anything about the board policy probably because nobody follows them except if they want to remove someone. However, I disagree that the principals should run the show. There are a lot of principals how misuse, misallocate, misrepresent finances as well. Corruption starts from the top and works its way down. My question is why does Hubberman need all these 100+K employees? With the economy the way it is, I am sure you can find thousands of people at 40K willing and able to do the same crabby job of gathering data and misrepresenting the same data to the public. I agree what is the purpose of CAOs?

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    I think at this point in time teachers and parents need to become far more sophisticated in understanding CPS fiscal issues before they start claiming all of the issues Mr. Huberman raised in his interview with Crain

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod, since you had a sit-down with Ron to discuss the budget not long ago, you have posted several times on various blogs that we "just don't get it" regarding the budget problems. Well, maybe if Ron communicated with us occasionally, we might understand it better too. Think he will invite us in for a cozy budget meeting so that we too can be a part of the solution?

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    I also don't understand your point about the problem in liquidating money market funds, repos, etc. Most of us don't stash all our money in the checking account, but try to earn some interest. That doesn't mean that the money market fund isn't there to tap if we need it. You make it sound like (1) that money is unavailable, and (2) CPS should keep a billion where it would only accrue bank charges.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod, you are right about the majority of teachers not understanding the budget-we only know what we see and that is gross mismanagement at the district/central office (not the school level if you have an effective principal)-we are the ones who see central/district office personnel park their carcasses at our schools all day-do nothing-offer no viable solutions to any problems and then meander on down to the next school-exactly what is their purpose-we do not know-where is the accountability?

    Then we go to inservices given by these highly paid CPS experts and they start late, have no hard copy and they can not answer questions-it is embarrassing. New programs which cost millions come and go every 5-10 years. We only know what we see and we see waste. I always had high hopes whenever a new superintendent came into CPS.

    Now there is talk of reopening the contract. Why are we not afforded the same consideration Mr. Huberman offered CTA personnel in the form of buyouts? Many teachers have planned their exit based upon the terms of this contract and to change the terms may cause these teachers to NOT retire because of monetary concerns. At the end of this contact which ends in 2012 there will be a mass exodus because the PEP ends. Mr.Huberman can then replace the veterans with less expensive personnel who will not last long enough to earn a pension-problem solved.

    Employee morale is extremely low and Mr Huberman is not addressing this issue which will have a long lasting impact upon CPS.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Does anyone know the amount of teachers who are eligible for retirement under the terms of the current contract?

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    CPS has been against 5+5-there would be LOTS of employees to take it, with the way the Huberteam is screwing-up. However, it costs CPS too much $ for 5+5 and it devestates schools. The massive exodus of teachers would be too much for Ronnie. (It would teach him a lesson. So would a strike. He is so hardheaded.) CPS brags that they have all these new hires just wating to come to the schools, but this is puffery. Many do not come, many do not get renewed, and many runaway, and many leave when they realize they will be vested in the pension. Hopefully there will be new and real CTU leadership--not that it will solve all of the problems teachers have working for a horrible employer, but it is a start.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    huberman did you figure out that second car yet? "Those found to be responsible will face severe disciplinary action."

    http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/01/tribune-watchdog-chicago-schools-vehicle-lease-deal-probed.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ChicagoBreakingNews+%28Chicago+Breaking+News%29"

  • Are there numbers regarding the after school contracts with these private companies? How many neighborhood schools would love to have that money to extend the instructional day and embed the collaborative strategic planning and evaluation that needs to be done to turn around schools. We don't need anymore expensive patches! We need to build strong professional organizations in each school.

    Some CAO's , besides having no experience in building professional capacity in school organizations, also have no idea on how to budget dollars for their respect for their respective areas. How is the money being spent? Transparency where are you? Marilyn where are you?

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