Pro-Active Strike Vote?

Lots of coverage of the decision to go to fact finding -- and some mention of the possibility that CTU won't wait to conduct the vote even if they can't go on strike yet, an approach that's come up here several times over the past few weeks.  What such a vote would do to the fact finding process, or how CPS would respond, I have no idea but I've asked CTU and will let you know.

CPS and teachers' union move closer to strike Tribune: Contract talks between Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union have moved to the first of several steps that could lead to a strike, officials said Monday.

CPS, CTU prepare for fact-finding in contract negotiation Catalyst:   CTU may decide to hold a strike-authorization vote before the end of the current school year, in order to be able to include current members who are retiring.

Teachers union, CPS agree to call in ‘fact-finding’ panel for contract talks Sun Times:  A timeline released by the 30,000 member Chicago Teachers Union Monday seemed to put the earliest possible strike date in mid- to late August.

Chicago Teachers Headed for a Strike Fox:  Chicago Teachers could be headed for a strike. Both sides confirm they've reached an impasse, after several months of contract talks.


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  • Silly question but if the teachers did strike would it be during this school year or at the start of the 2012-2013 year?

    Thank you

  • so i'm told by CTU that the process for authorizing a strike can begin before the fact finding process completes, etc. -- ie, this year -- and can theoretically last longer than a day or week, etc.

    so things could proceed along two tracks, simultaneously, with the fact finding and all of that happening while a strike authorization vote is also taking place.


  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Yes, that is very interesting. At my child's school in Garfield Ridge, the tensions are clearly running high with the parents and teachers regarding the "unknown" about the longer school day. To the parents such as myself, it feels as if we will be part of a big experiment. Similar to the breakfast in the classroom, parents fought to not have it and then CPS "won." However, my children's school stopped doing it and no one said anything to the parents. Good luck to the teachers out there!

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    The CTU's reading of the existing law seems correct to me. There is no clear linkage in the Act that would require fact finding to be fully completed before there is a strike authorization vote. There are clear rules about any strike itself in terms of the completion of the fact finding panel process, but not the authorization vote.

    Also up to now the decisions on how to hold a strike vote has been based on union rules because fundamentally in the eyes of the law it is a private organization made up of members that is making this decision. SB7 created a new approval standard, but did not define a voting process.

    No administrative rules have been put forward on this issue by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) so as of right now its up to the CTU to make up the voting process as far as I can tell. I do know that in the last year one community college union in Illinois did carry out a strike vote that lasted one full week so that is not unpecedented. I am not sure the voting time frame can be completely time unlimited otherwise it might not meet rational definition of the word "vote." But given IELRB's definition of "coercing employees" if a union member elects not to vote asking repeatedly for them to do so may be considered to be an unfair labor practice. So its not clear what a long voting process would achieve.

    Formally it is unclear if the authorization vote is taken before the end of the fact finding process what deal the members are actually rejecting. But if you look at the IELRB website and go to it becomes clear that even the legally required notice of intent to strike does not clearly require the union to publicly state what deal they are in fact rejecting.

    But once the fact finding report becomes public in the situation of rejection by either the CTU or CPS there is no way around the public perception that what ever compromise deal is in that report is the deal that the strike by the union or an unlikely lockout by CPS would be about.

    I agree with Alexander that his discussion with the CTU was interesting.

    Rod Estvan

  • Can a strike vote occur, be certified, but the actual strike occur later?

  • The way our union rep explained it, the membership will vote, prior to the end of the school year, to give the house of delegates the authorization to strike. That authorization would then be used, or not, by the house of delegates in the fall when we know what the final offers are.

  • Great strategy by the teachers to vote for the strike and hold it until the offers are in. It gives CTU the ultimate leverage in the negotiations. I say yes, vote to strike and hold it until the final offer. This way you can get the best deal. Excellent strategic idea by whoever came up with it.

  • Very interesting indeed. I am still trying to figure out how that SB7 law even was passed. It seems very unconstitutional and discriminitive in my opinion. How can they pass a law that "only" effects Chicago Teachers? My question is why has the CTU not taken this to the courts yet to fight it? How can Illinois pass a law that does not effect any other teachers unions in any other district except for Chicago's? This is so wrong on so many levels. I think it should be taken to the supreme courts calling it unconstituional and basically discrimination against Chicago teachers! Just my opinion.

  • In reply to fedup:

    There's no lawsuit here. Teachers are not a protected class.

  • In reply to fedup:

    I would recommend reading US District Judge WILLIAM M. CONLEY's decision last month in the Wisconsin public employees suit that was based on on Equal Protection and First Amendment grounds. WISCONSIN EDUCATION ASSOCIATION COUNCIL et al v. SCOTT WALKER, Governor, State of Wisconsin et al. 11-cv-428-wmc.

    In that case the Judge ruled that it was legal to create different bargaining conditions for different groups of public sector workers and there was no violation of the equal protection provisions of the Constitution. He did rule that Wisconsin could not make one group of public sector workers have to vote every year to reauthorize their union and bar them from dues checkoff if another group public safety workers did not have these conditions placed on them. He based this on his understanding of these union members first amendment or free speech rights.

    I found the ruling a little confusing but simply put the Judge said: "There is no dispute that a state may bar its public employees from engaging in any
    form of collective bargaining. The only question is whether a state may restrict the collective bargaining rights to one category of public unions while allowing full rights to another category. The answer to that question is surely “yes,” provided the classifications do not involve a suspect class and a rational basis exists for a state’s line drawing. Here, there is no suspect class involved and plaintiffs [effectively he agrees with district299reader's post] have failed to present sufficient evidence that exempting public safety employees from the new, expansive restrictions on collective bargaining bears no rational relationship to a legitimate government interest in avoiding strikes of those employees."

    Given that the Illinois General Assembly has seen fit to have different provisions historically for Chicago schools and all other schools it does not seem likely that SB7 could be over turned based on the equal protection provisions. I agree with district299reader's analysis.

    Rod Estvan

  • I guess I understand this, but it just seems extremely unfair that Chicago seems to be the only district that is making it mandatory for it's teachers Union to have 75% of it's members vote yes in order to have a strike. Not only that, but they are not even allowed to bargain with anything except their pay and raises. This is so wrong. Also, why is CPS the only school district in Illinois that is run by the Mayor?? In my opinion politics and education do not mix and do not even belong together. CPS should be run by someone who is very knowledgable in teaching and education, not politics. In any event, if things keep going the way they are, I am sure there is going to be a mass exodus of teachers in chicago and Chicago is going to lose alot of good teachers.

  • In reply to fedup:

    Haaaa!!! "Chicago is going to lose a lot of good teachers." Chicago IS losing a lot of good teachers. Off to the burbs/retiring earlier. That's the point of the current administration. Do you honestly believe that is NOT what they want?? What "good" teacher would honestly want to stay in such a deplorable system? This is just another example of disaster capitalism. Create a crisis (horrible schools) and propagandize how privatizing them will "fix" everything. Why do you think schools on the hit list are starved to death?

  • In reply to j007:

    You create chaos before you introduce big changes. The chaos we are in will certainly lead to change. Unfortunately, I'm afraid, the change will be the end of public education as we know it. I feel so powerless. I don't think people believe this is actually happening.

  • I know of one suburban district that is getting nearly 100 resumes per day, most of them from CPS, and one weekend, the principal got 800 resumes. Between retirements, early retirements, losing job due to school being closed, leaving for burbs or just quitting for other work, it is estimated that 30-50% of our entire teaching staff will be gone in the next 2-3 years. That is a huge number. I am getting my info from a small networking group of CPS principals.

  • I am sitting in a bar in Springfield and you all are getting me depressed. I do think a lot of teachers will bail out.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod, have a drink on me. I will pay for it when I see you.

  • Teachers are not bailing out-they are escaping. Let’s be frank about the
    situation. Forget all the bull shit and just say it Chicago teachers are scared.
    It is not a physical fear causing these educational refugees
    to flee a life’s work ,there are no stukas machine gunning the road .No the
    enemy is what most people fear the most “the Unknown”.
    Change always brings the unknown unless it is carefully planned
    and has realistic attainable goals. Teachers are caught in a struggle between the
    ruthless realities of SB7 and the union that allowed it to happen.
    No outsider can understand the stupendous responsibilities heaped
    on a teacher in today’s schools. We are on the hook for everything.
    But we have the authority to do virtually nothing about the situation
    thanks to SB7 and the 1995 reform act, as applied by the arsine Board.
    The union contract is a little comfort to those in the schools. But
    nothing is done to enforce its provisions. To most teachers,
    and administrators it has become a bad joke.
    Only teachers and parents really know the damaged kids of Chicago.
    We alone can decide what the best course of actions to correct
    decades of abuse.But they have become the ball in this game
    And the board has the serve.

  • I think it is going take "ALL" teachers to take a stand together otherwise it will be a losing battle for the teachers. I am talking ALL the teachers from all districts and such. If every teacher banned together then people would have no choice but to listen. unfortunately in the real world, this is not likely going to happen.

    If the constitution says all people should be treated equal, then how can they pass a bunch of bills that are discriminitive towards just the teachers of Chicago ( i.e. has to have 75% member vote for strike, cannot have equal bargaining rights)??? I am sorry, but these laws they passed definitely go against the constitution. Last I heard, discrimination was against the law in the United States. I think the federal government should seriously look into this.

    They are trying to take labor rights away from the people. Years ago people fought so hard to have fair working conditions and pay, thus how the unions came about where people actually had a voice. Before unions and fair labor, people were working 12 to 16 hour days and under horrible working conditions and pathetic pay. This is still happening in other countries today. What they are doing goes against everything our nation stands for.

    If they are doing this to the Chicago teachers union, then whats to stop them from attacking other unions????

  • @ Fedup I don't know if mandating the 75% member vote is constitutional or not. It's not probably interpreted as unconstitutional obviously, otherwise, it wouldn't be state law.

    That Being said, the federal government wont "look" into it because what is happening to education is exactly what the federal government wants. They like it!

    I am fed up too!

    I worked for CPS for 8 years! I am in a private school now teaching music part time. I teach private lessons and student rock bands now full time as well as my part time gig. I feel hurt every time I read this blog. I feel our government is purposely destroying education. I have a 8 year CPS music teacher story to tell. It'll be in a book I hope to have published. I don't expect to change the world. I just want to tell my story.

    My living is now as a private music teacher geared toward community involvement and I hope I have broken the chains of being regulated by the bastards for good.

    I feel your for the teachers of CPS and I love them. BREAK THE CHAINS!! Bust Emanuel Balls!!

  • Musician, I totally get where you are coming from. Cant blame you for getting out, that is for sure. I would love to read your book whenever it gets published. These are the stories that people need to to read, the "real" stories.

    The future of the educationial system in our future is very uncertain unfortunately. It is headed in the wrong direction. Teachers have masters degree's and higher and are very knowledgable and educated yet they have no voice when it comes to their own profession. This is insane. what is this world coming to. Teachers are the ones who should be calling the shots in terms of how to educate children.

    If you look at how Finnland runs their school system, and they are on the top, we could learn alot from them. They work with their teachers and staff, they do not have all these restrictions and added stress. They do not have the teacher turnover rate like we do here. They do not even need a union as the administrators and teachers work as a team. And the money for their school system actually goes to the school system. Teachers are fairly compensated for their work and are respected. They do not have a 7 hour school day. The kids have about 4 hours of instructional time and have plenty of time for Music, art and sports and many other activities that are vital for them to experience when it comes to learning. We have it all backwards here in our system. Too much stress on the teachers and the students. Oh, also, they do not teach to the test in Finnland. In fact they do not base anything on these tests except for getting a general idea on how the child is doing. They do not use tests as a basis on how a student is doing. They gather that info on the students accomplishments in the classroom.

    I think eventually in the future after seeing that the school system is not improving with the way things are being done in education, maybe then things will change for the better when it comes to our children and our teachers and professionals.

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