CTU leadership has consistently said that salary will be discussed in the last stage of contract negotiations, and on Wednesday they revealed that CPS made a new offer. 

It is five days before the Sept. 10 strike date.

CPS officials have given up their hope of getting merit pay or what they call a differentiated pay scale in this contract and they will continue to reward teachers with salary increases for getting more educational degrees, said CTU President Karen Lewis on Wednesday.

However, CPS officials have not budged on their offer of 2 percent a year for four years. They also are not offering increases for experience called step increases, though they said they would allow teachers to count their years of service should step increases be part of future contracts.

Lewis was dubious about the concession on step increases. “It gets us nothing,” she said.

Union leadership has not decided what it will counter offer, but called the district’s offer “unacceptable.” In the past, the CTU has insisted that teachers deserve a bigger raise. Lewis defended that position again, noting that teachers are working more hours and days and being evaluated on test scores. They also are teaching a more rigorous curriculum with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

“We are working longer and harder,” she said. Lewis added that CPS rescinded a promised four percent salary increase last year and that is still a “bone of contention.”

Lewis briefed the press after the union’s House of Delegates meeting. Most delegates did not to talk to the press when leaving the meeting, but many were carrying bags filled with red CTU t-shirts and picket signs.

One teacher noted she was not impressed with CPS’ offer. “They are offering peanuts,” she said.

In addition to pay, numerous other issues have yet to be resolved, Lewis said.

“Too many for me to count,” she said.  One of the biggest is recall procedures for displaced teachers.

Also, on Wednesday, CTU announced that it had filed unfair labor practice charges with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. The complaints allege that CPS wrongly started implementing new conditions without the union agreeing to them. Among the things CPS did: Stop paying step increases, and started imposing a new teacher evaluation system.

If the CTU is successful with its charges, the state labor agency could ultimately ask the state to seek an injunction ordering CPS to roll back the changes.

CTU Lawyer Robert Bloch said the union can strike over unfair labor practices. Striking over unfair labor practices, rather than over the contract, prevents CPS from hiring permanent teachers to take the place of striking teachers, he said. But he insisted that it was unlikely that CPS would be able to hire 26,000 replacements anyway.

The main reason for filing the complaint, he said, is that it is wrong for CPS to take those steps before the issues are resolved on the bargaining table.

CPS Spokeswoman Becky Carroll called the unfair labor practices complaint unnecessary.”It’s time to put antics aside and negotiate in good faith on behalf of our students so they can stay in classrooms with their teachers where they belong,” she said.

Sarah is the deputy editor of Catalyst Chicago.

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