"Serious offer" to Chicago Teachers Union is a lousy deal (Updated)

…for everyone else in Illinois. It’s a sweet deal for the union, exceedingly sweet.

UPDATE: CTU REJECTS GENEROUS OFFER (See my commentary on this greedy action.)

According to unnamed sources cited by the Chicago Tribune, the tentative four-year pact offered by the Chicago School System to the Chicago Teachers Union would include pay increase and increased job security. Really? When the Chicago School System is billions of dollars in the red and there’s whispers of bankruptcy? Incredible.

Here are the basics of the offer, according to the Tribune:

  • A guarantee of no economic layoffs through the end of the contract in 2019. The only way to reduce the workforce would be through retirements and attrition.
  • Cost-of-living pay increases.
  • “Step and lane” pay increases based on experience and seniority.
  • No more new charter schools beyond the about 130 that operate now. Only new ones allowed would be replacements for any others that closed.

Think about it. When millions of Americans have given up searching for work and even some other unions are being more realistic in their demands, the Chicago Teachers Union hums alone as if there was no recession.

Who else gets guaranteed job security (no economic layoffs), especially in the private sector, but even in the public sector? When CPS is scratching for every dime, when it reportedly can’t sell bonds at an exorbitant interest rate to keep the operation going, when the teachers’ pension fund is billions underfunded, how can the school system ever agree to such demands?

Who else gets automatic cost-of-living increases? Sure, a COL adjustment is minor a minor expense in the larger

Karen Lewis (right) leads the charge at the Chicago Teachers Union strike in 2012. Will there be another one if CPS doesn't meet the union's unreasonable demands? (Chicago Tribune)

Karen Lewis (right) leads the charge at the Chicago Teachers Union strike in 2012. Will there be another one if CPS doesn’t meet the union’s unreasonable demands? (Chicago Tribune)

picture now, but who can look four years ahead, especially when the Federal Reserve has started to again raise interest rates and the amount of cash floating around is an invitation to inflation?

Who else gets “step and lane” pay increases, which are essentially rewards for hanging around long enough?  Especially when its almost impossible for CPS to rid itself of old, unproductive teachers who are on the glide path to a plush pension.

And why does the CTU get to determine how many charter schools CPS will open? Especially when charter schools are so popular, partly because of the mess that the CTU has created in the rest of the system. It’s a policy decision, supposedly made by the school board who are entrusted by law to run the system for the benefit of Chicago’s children. Oh, them.

Sure, the teachers will remind us that they’re giving up a biggie in return. Right. They end up having to pay more for health insurance and pensions, much as most other American workers do. For example, CPS deposited into the pension fund the equivalent of two percent of pay as its share of everyone’s pension contribution. Teachers contribute 7 percent, but–here comes the big but–CPS picked up and paid for those individual contributions. Under the offer, teachers would have to pay their share–oh my goodness.

In other words, until this offer, taxpayers have been footing the bill for the entire cost of each teacher’s luxurious pension. Pensions that are completely out of sight and unaffordable. Pensions that are protected by the Illinois constitution from event the slightest tweaking.

When word of this offer first reached the CTU’s ears, the sound of bellyaching enveloped the city. “We’d be taking a 7 percent pay cut,” teachers cried. But the question is: can the rest of us afford it? Can CPS pay its bills? Can it sell bonds at a reasonable rate. While already overburdened property tax payers could be asked to cough up more.

The CTU lives on another planet, blind to the realities of today’s economy. Save your email about how hard they work and what a tough job they have. It’s as if the rest of the world doesn’t work as hard.

If you live in the suburbs or downstate, this affects you too. CPS fully expects the state of Illinois (already scratching for its own dimes) to cough up hundreds of millions of dollars to bail out the sinking school district. Just one question for CTU: Where do you think the state will find the money?

Read why Americans need to learn about the nation’s most ignored war. 

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