Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Message to Chicago Teachers from JC on the Strike Vote

Dear Teacher,

Earlier this evening, I emailed you requesting that you reconsider voting yes in the strike authorization vote in our schools beginning Wednesday, June 6.  I have it on very good authority that many of you did not heed my missive and in fact some of you have even taken to openly mocking it on forums and on Facebook.  I am asking you again to reconsider and this time the gloves are off.

I told you already about SB7.   This legislation was carefully crafted by very wealthy people both inside and out of the state to crush your union and take away your ability to strike.  Frankly, we never even thought there was an outside chance that you could hit 50% in a strike vote.  You may have seen the Jonah Edelman video going around where he explains the thinking behind the law.   You are upsetting a lot of plans and we are not amused.   Grow up and wait for the fact finder to rule on the small number of points he can rule on.

As you know, CPS and CTU are in the middle of the collective bargaining process established in SB7 and just because we've been at it since November without progress doesn't mean results aren't right around the corner.  For one thing, I haven't attended a single negotiation session yet.  When I show up there with my top secret offer, the union will be very pleasantly surprised.  When we offered a 2% raise, we really meant a 20% raise.  When we said we would absolutely not budge on things like class size, we really meant, "We welcome negotiations that will help all the city's children."  Of course, you won't know that if you go out on strike.  Will you?  If you vote for a strike you're disrespecting the process.  Believe me, if there's one thing we know about it's disrespect.

CTU continues to grossly distort our positions:

CPS is not changing its class size policy and has told CTU this repeatedly.  We are simply taking any class size protections from the contract, but come on this is JC.  You know you can trust us.
CPS has enhanced staffing levels by maintaining quota positions and giving schools an additional $130 million in discretionary funding that can be used for additional staff positions if your schools doesn't need books, or paper, or toilet paper.
CPS has offered teachers significantly more professional development time for both elementary and high school teachers by allowing teachers to stay after school until late in the evening or come into work on Saturday.

Third, Miss Lewis and Mister Sharkey have expressed interest in taking the strike vote now because teachers will be on vacation over Summer and it will be difficult to negotiate over the Fuller School Day after it has already begun.  Seriously?  You can't vote over Summer because you want to take your kids to the Dells?   Isn't it time that the children of Chicago didn't get the shaft while you got a trip down a fancy water slide?  Also, wouldn't it be made in the Fall when all teachers can make an informed decision including the 5,000 or so just hired teachers completely new to the system and lacking tenure protection?

I am confident that CPS and CTU will reach an agreement that is fair to its members, students and taxpayers. My team and I are committed to that. I was a teacher, my wife was a teacher, both my parents were teachers, I have friends who were teachers, I had a former teacher squeegee my car today and Common's mom was a teacher. We not only respect and support the work that you do, but believe very strongly that you deserve a raise.  All that talk about you not deserving a raise when we took the 4% from you last year---that was Rahm's idea.  I had nothing to do with it.   Authorizing a strike will likely derail that process, not aid it.  Then you might have to take a pay cut and while I would continue to support you, my heart just wouldn't be in it.
For more information on the intent behind SB7, watch this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kog8g9sTDSo.
Start thinking about the kids, you selfish jerks.


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