It’s been a week of uncertainty for Chicago teachers. 

On Monday, district officials say they brought up the idea of a longer school day during Monday’s negotiations, and that CTU President Karen Lewis told them she had to take the proposal back to union leadership. The union then announced that negotiations had stalled.

On Tuesday, teachers were expected to vote at a House of Delegates meeting on whether to terminate their contract over the district’s refusal to pay teachers their contractually promised 4 percent raises, but no vote was taken. The House of Delegates may take up the issue again in early September.

Meanwhile, CEO Jean-Claude Brizard appeared on Chicago Tonight and offered elementary school teachers a 2 percent raise in exchange for a longer school day and year, starting in September.

On Wednesday, Lewis said at a Board of Education meeting that many teachers were unhappy with Brizard’s idea. The district sent the union a similar proposal offering elementary school teachers a 2 percent raise in exchange for a longer day and school year, both of which would start in January. It would cost the district $15 million. “In the proposal, we also included some ideas to create flexibility in adding days and minutes to the school year,” CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll wrote in an email.

On Thursday, the union rejected the district’s offer. (If you want to know what the union is telling its members about next steps, check out this presentation the union offered at its Tuesday night meeting).

But in a nutshell, nothing has changed significantly since Monday. Negotiations are still stalled. The union’s contract has still not been terminated. Teachers’ raises are still up in the air. So is the possibility of a longer school day this year.

Here at Catalyst, we decided to crack open teacher contracts in other urban districts. In four of six districts, wage increases have been canceled or even negotiated out of teachers’ contracts altogether. In others, teachers have taken home across-the-board pay increases in recent years, but none higher than 3 percent since fiscal year 2011.

(Note: This listing accounts only for across-the-board increases, sometimes known as “cost-of-living adjustments.” Unless otherwise noted, teachers in these cities—as in Chicago—are still eligible for step and lane increases given for extra years of service or earning graduate degrees.)

New York City
Teachers were slated to receive a 2% raise in both fiscal years 2011 and 2012, but the raises were canceled both years in an effort to avoid teacher layoffs.

FY 2007: 2%
FY 2008: 3% in September, $600 in February
FY 2009: 3% in September, 1% in February
FY 2010: 3% in September, 1% in February

A new contract is still in negotiation. The union’s website notes that it is seeking a salary increase retroactive to September 2010.

Los Angeles
Teachers did not receive across-the-board raises in fiscal years 2009, 2010, or 2011. The current contract expired in June. In fiscal year 2012, the union agreed to four furlough days in exchange for the district re-hiring a number of laid-off teachers.

According to a negotiated agreement extending teachers’ most recent contract, they will not receive a cost of living adjustment in fiscal years 2011 or 2012.
FY 2011: 3% in September
FY 2012: 3% in January

Teachers have not had across-the-board raises for a number of years and last received step increases in 2009. (Florida is a right-to-work state.)

“The state is not funding education; consequently, the district says they don’t have the funds to move people appropriately (up the step schedule),” says Karen Aronowitz, president of United Teachers of Dade.

To make matters worse, she adds, a new law took effect in July that reduces the amount the state contributes to pensions and takes the money out of teacher salaries instead, creating a 3 percent pay cut.

is web editor at The Chicago Reporter.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.