Bill aims to reopen teacher contract; could it happen to CTA unions?

Republican state legislators outside the city — at the behest of the Chicago Board of Education — are trying to push forward a bill that would reopen the Chicago teachers contract ostensibly so the school board wouldn’t have to pay scheduled raises under the contract. 

HB 5596 lost at the committee level last week, but was re-referred to the Rules Committee. So as Styx might sing, the bill is not dead yet.

That makes me wonder. If the Chicago Board of Education, facing about $1 billion deficit, can try to force open contract negotiations to avoid paying future raises, why couldn’t the CTA board do the same thing? CTAs unions got raises this year and are due another pay increase in 2011, the last year of the current contract.
Just wondering.


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  • As usual they aren't trying every available option before they ask for union givebacks.
    Carbon offset credits could be sold against the value of children walking or biking to school.The money could be used to hire more crossing guards and police,so even more children could safely walk to school.Not to mention the savings from eliminating most of the school buses.

  • James, this isn't the District 299 blog.

    To the merits, since the NLRA is not involved, labor relations is the state sector are controlled, in the schools' case by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, and the CTA by the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act. So, sure, the state legislature could amend those, but since the agreements at issue are contracts, one would think that those attempts would violate the provision of the U.S. Constitution that "No State shall ... pass any ... Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts" (Article I Section 10). So, at least as to current contracts, either law would be unconstitutional. Not that the Illinois Legislature has ever been deterred from enacting unconstitutional statutes, but a court would quickly declare this one unenforceable (such as it did with regard to the medical malpractice reform act).

    So for the person (using the term in the singular) who thinks that this CTA contract will be renegotiated, I don't think so.

  • In reply to jack:

    Ha ha Jack! Now I wonder which singular person you are referring too! ;-)

    Really, I'm not saying it would happen, just posing the question. And I see the question brought you out of your shell coz we haven't heard much from you lately. I missed you!

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    Giving it to Dennis Byrne, who, unlike our President, is not a Professor of Constitutional Law at the U of C.

    Also waiting for the time to pounce on N'Digo.

    But, again, that's off point.

  • As far as future contracts, such a law could be passed without amending the state constitution. However, you have to consider what is the remaining source of the state Democratic Party's strength. While Daley may be willing to take on the unions, you know that the rest of the Democrats aren't (as evidenced that the Republicans proposed this bill, supposedly at Daley's request, Board of Ed=Daley). While I don't know what the situation is with the schools, one also has to consider that the current CTA contract is a result of a compromised arbitration, conditional on the 2008 RTA Act being passed. The prior one was an arbitration award that Kruesi, correctly, stated that the CTA Board had to accept. Thus, you know that some external force would have to be placed on the CTA negotiating process to prevent the result we now have.

    The other fallacy is that politicians would use the same "cure" for the drop in tax revenue that Todd Stroger did to "prevent a deficit" and Quinn now suggests to prevent the school mayhem (and previously said to prevent social service cuts)--get on my bandwagon for a tax increase. I'm surprised that did not happen again in the transit area, but I guess Daley agrees that they had their chance in 2008, but not again. Also, Quinn says he solved the problem by having the RTA borrow $166 million.

    To get back to the contracts point, to which I alluded above, notwithstanding the Contract Clause point (which was U.S. Constitution, not state), Darrell Jefferson's point is that he is upholding the Union's contract. If renegotiation could be forced, then he would call a strike. So long as there is a contract, he knows he can't.

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