CHICAGO -- Chicago teachers have done it before, but could it happen again?
After months of negotiating with Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis says she thought they were close to a contract agreement. One she says says would have included a pay freeze.
Now, the city wants to drop its seven percent contribution into the teachers’ pension fund. They are asking union members to pick up that cost which amounts to about $140 million dollars a year.
“They lose 7% off the top, but it has the secondary effect that the salary is now lower than what it used to be,” says CTU attorney Robert Bloch. “The pension benefit is key to the salary so the pension benefit declines as a result of that.”
Bloch argues teachers don’t get social security and already pay two percent of their salary toward their pension.
“I’m saying to take a 7% pay cut is strike worthy,” Lewis said.
CPS released a statement Friday afternoon saying:
“CPS remains dedicated to reaching a multi-year agreement with our teachers that respects their hard work and protects the academic gains that they’ve helped our students achieve. We will continue to negotiate in good faith at the bargaining table to reach an agreement on a broader and longer contract that is beneficial for our children, their teachers, the taxpayers and the entire system. However, we will not roll back standards for teacher performance, and we will make sure that our highest-performing teachers can continue to serve in classrooms.”
This week, Gov Rauner asked for support for his fix-it plan that would include removing the pension payment issue from collective bargaining for teachers unions.
While Lewis eluded to a strike vote being possible in the near future, she was also optimistic, and hopeful for a resolution.
“We will eventually land an agreement. It will happen,” she said.
A strike vote could be authorized soon but there are mediation and other steps. An actual walk out wouldn’t come until late fall or early winter.