CPS teachers have another year to go under their current contract agreement, yet union delegates have approved a preliminary list of demands and are gearing up to negotiate a new deal.
Several items on their wish list—shaving 15 minutes off of the school day, eliminating 50-minute periods in high schools, requiring the district to foot the entire bill for health insurance premiums—would undo provisions that were hammered out by former Chicago Teachers Union President Deborah Lynch and her team.
Others, such as prohibiting principals from firing non-tenured teachers, are hallmarks of CTU President Marilyn Stewart, who has staunchly maintained that preserving teachers’ jobs is a top priority and has already threatened to strike over it.
Also notable among these items is a bid to stem the expansion of charter schools, and force charter operators with more than one campus open to eliminate those additional sites over three years.
Stewart and her team have opposed the district’s new schools initiative, Renaissance 2010, arguing that closing schools eliminates teaching positions and that teachers at the new schools, particularly charters, are not represented by CTU.
Union officials have not yet determined which items it will take into formal negotiations, which will begin next year. Over the past 10 years, the district has pushed for, and gotten, multiyear agreements that assure labor peace for an extended period. This time, CTU is aiming for a one-year deal.
Stewart declined to comment on the demands, citing a mutual agreement with the School Board to refrain from negotiating in the press.