Sunday, March 10, 2013

New City College to be Invented by Reinvention

Chicago, Ill.— A day like today, a spokesman for the Chancellor announced that a new City College will be established to satisfy the data driven needs of Reinvention. The spokesman, who declined to reveal his name because he is between jobs, or assignments, or two-way promotions, indicated that in line with the mayor's goals to develop new skills for Chicago, the College for the Manufacture of Consent will be erected somewhere on top of the Chicago River.

"Yes," the spokesman said, "the Aldermen are outdoing each other to take credit for the approval of the $500 million allocation needed to make this true under the guarantee that 250 jobs will be rearranged or rechristened in Chicago."

According to the Associate Vice Chancellor of Invention of Vice Chancellor Titles, Hewholl Bennext, the need to "replace top-notch managers at District Office has become a growth industry because the latest numbers we have carefully collected reveal the the revolving door rate has increased by 25 percent."

The new college will offer programs in: 

* High-Stakes Window Dressing
* Education Deleveraging
* 21st Century College Segregation
* Serendipitous Employee Pauperization
* Minime Recruitment and Retention

An array of brand new courses are already under development by Accenture consultants in collaboration with the Lumina Foundation. The expectations for this new college are high. The whole concept of higher education will be revamped. According to the spokesman, "Education as we knew it will be replaced by a check list of priorities that our job creators have decided as the new definition of education. Things that must acquired in the fastest time possible. Things that we can count with computers."

Lumina's "Select all your Associate Degree Courses Before Your First Day of College" will be an essential component of this new enterprise because every student needs to know what their only humanities class will be in their spring semester of their second year. Any straying from that meticulously designed plan will be avoided. "There is no time, resources or effort to be wasted," Bennext said. "Only the children of the rich have the luxury to inquire, explore, and of course, enrich themselves."

For that purpose, each college advisor has been assigned an additional 37.5 hours per week to splice together the education plans for the graduating classes of 2020 through 2030. While the first three years of Reinvention were momentous, this new phase is meant to emphasize the intensely different nature of the changes.

In line with the expectations of the Civic Consulting Alliance and its mother ship, the Commercial Club of Chicago, the economic efficiency of Reinvention will reach a new milestone. Fewer ordinary staff doing more work at the ground level, with more world-class business talent at the District Office.

A spokesman from the Civic Consulting Alliance on way to his new two-way appointment to DIstrict Office remarked: "The seamlessness of Reinvention is revealed with this new college. Once graduated, and duly counted, a student will be shoveled into a job for a company for which the City covered the interview and recruitment expenses."

As proof of this seamlessness the CCA spokesman solemnly highlighted the existence of Skills for Chicagoland's Future (SCHAF). "Hey, this is our latest outfit," the spokesman said. "The folks behind it are the same ones behind Reinvention. We are all a happy family. You can ask the Pritzkers."

"SCHAF helped a poor company hire call-center workers. You don't know how hard it is to find people with those skills, specially people willing to do this work for the modest wages involved. That's why we need the Reinvention," the second spokesman added.

According to SCHAF's accounts the call-center workers will call and recruit these workers to temporary jobs and temporary wages. Apparently, the beauty of this innovative arrangement is in that periodically one of the recruited workers will get to temporarily replace the call center workers resulting in a perfect circle.

Although this reporter was unable to reach the mayor for a statement, someone at his office said that he said: "I am very excited about this new college. This will be the definitive evidence that I am a number one in something. Something big. Levitating a college over the river across the Merchandise Mart is more than a symbol. It is the certification that I can use high-tech to justify anything."


Copyright 2013, by the Pearl Broadcasting Corporation

Happy Fool's Day Era everyone.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Comparison of the contracts of CTU, and Locals 1708 and 1600

The following analysis was submitted by Craig and coworkers. We reproduce it below in its entirety in a spirit of solidarity and with the hope that it will help clarify the state of affairs at the CCC and within the organizations that represent most of its employees. May this spark another round of discussion that will help us chart a way forward to rescue the CCC from the mouth of sharks.




As a concerned group of loyal union members, over the past few months we have learned a great deal about the recently signed CCC contracts. After the vote, we realized that we had cast our ballots (some in favor; some against the contract) based upon very limited and contradictory information. For that reason we decided to find out what the truth was. 

We learned from Dr. Bruno’s contract meeting at Morton College that good contract negotiation results are a reflection of fact-finding and tough collective bargaining. Our research unearthed many concerning issues that sadly we were unaware of. Our research concluded that Local 1600 union president Perry Buckley was either unaware of the issues below, or unconcerned by them, or both. 

President Buckley signed agreements for both the Faculty and Professional City Colleges contracts nearly one year in advance of their expiration.  (Both contracts expire in July of 2013).

Just weeks before signing the contracts, Mr. Buckley retired and secured his own benefits from CCC: an impressive annual retirement salary (Pension + Union Salary combined of more than $300,000.00 annually) and a generous sick day payout (sick days amounting to more than $200,000.00).

Below we will compare three contractual results, and where applicable, include administrators.  These contractual agreements were all completed around the same time as follows:

Local 1708                                    June 7, 2012

Local 1600                                    August 23, 2012        

Local 1 CTU                                October 2, 2012

Much appreciation to all those who assisted in helping us gather and interpret the information we present below.   
LOCAL 1708 VS.  LOCAL 1600:

Local 1600’s sister union at City Colleges of Chicago is Local 1708, a union of Clerical workers.  Local 1708’s last contract ended in June of 2010.  Their union leaders then held out in firm negotiations against the City Colleges’ district lawyers for 24 months.  In comparison, Mr. Buckley held out for… almost one day.  In the end, Local 1708’s contract had Higher Raises, No Merit Pay, No loss of Earned Sick Days, and No Wellness program.  

CITY COLLEGES                           CITY COLLEGES
Clerical Union 1708                           Faculty & Professional Union 1600


2011     3.5%                                                                      2014    2.5 %
2012     3.0                                                                         2015    2.5
2013     3.5                                                                         2016    2.5
2014     3.5                                                                         2017    2.5
2015     3.5                                                                         2018    2.5

LOCAL 1600 RAISES: 2.5%— These raises are just above the rate of inflation.  The US inflation rate for 2012 stands at an average of 2.12%.   The 2.5% “raise” is, for all intents and purposes, a wage freeze.  When you add in the loss of sick day payouts and step increases, all members have now experienced a tremendous and career-long wage cut. 


Merit pay is an effort by educational reformers to pay teachers based on student performance.  Teachers would be paid according to factors such as student grades, test scores, graduation rates and related outcomes. Cheating and social promotion are rife in K-12 systems where this is the standard of compensation.
CTU Local 1:                    REJECTED MERIT / SUCCESS PAY

Local 1708:                    REJECTED MERIT / SUCCESS PAY

CCC Administrators:           DO NOT HAVE MERIT / SUCCESS PAY

Local 1600:                    ACCEPTED MERIT / SUCCESS PAY

The Chicago Tribune celebrated Mr. Buckley’s acceptance of Merit Pay in:
Revealed:  The Chicago Teachers’ Pact, September 5, 2012

Chicago Tribune:  Perhaps best of all: Under the new contract, merit pay will reward educators for improvements in student performance. No, no, it's not the teachers in Chicago Public Schools (CTU  Local 1) who have this new contract. We're describing the pact covering 1,483 union faculty, training staff and other professionals at the City Colleges of Chicago. The announcement came Saturday from system Chancellor Cheryl Hyman and Perry Buckley, president of Cook County Teachers Union Local 1600.”
The Merit Pay he accepted was semantically transformed into “Student Success Pay”.  This means we might be paid a few extra dollars if we inflate our grades substantially enough so that some of the District’s “student success” standards are met.  Such student success standards are highly unattainable. Among them are:

* Students who transfer within 3 years (must reach 25% from current 14%)

* Students employed in the occupational area of their training (must reach 90%)

*Median earnings of CCC grads in the area of their training must reach a minimum of $43,398  (Note: Full- time working U.S. COLLEGE graduates ages 21-24 with a B.A. degree earned an average of $34,965 in 2011)

See figure J:  Economic Policy Institute: “The Class of 2012”
Mr. Buckley also agreed to “Draft an MOU for a Joint CCC-union committee to address all issues related to Student Success Pay, including ‘Discuss additional ways to measure individual merit, such as assessments that go across the departments.’” 


We at Local 1600 have always had a contract with lanes and steps that reward greater education and experience with higher pay.  We advance in lanes by achieving more education.  We advance in steps by gaining additional years of service. Our salaries rise with each step or lane increase.  Local 1708’s contract has grades and steps that operate in a similar fashion.  CTU Local 1 has a contract with lanes and steps that resemble our own soon to expire contract.  


(New hires will no longer move through the steps).


The eradication of our steps and reduction of lanes was included in the contract for no reason other than to reduce our salaries substantially over our careers. The end result was to cut CCC’s payroll expenses dramatically. 


The danger of employer-required wellness programs is that employees can be penalized for not meeting the employer’s ideal of “wellness”.  This could mean being required to “quit smoking” or “lose weight” as examples.  CTU, in agreeing to a wellness program, demanded that there be no penalty for smoking, or for failing to meet any “health outcomes” the city might come up with.  CTU agreed only that their members would submit to an annual physical, and that this information would be kept confidential.  Local 1708 rejected a wellness program entirely.  In contrast, Mr. Buckley accepted a wellness program, but without limitations.  We are now essentially subject to the whims of the District Office in this matter. 



SEE Local 1708 Contract Article IX (M)

“In the event a Wellness Program is created for another bargaining unit, said Wellness program will become available to Local 1708.”

(This now means any Local 1708 member can use the Wellness program Local 1600 has agreed to if a member freely chooses to participate in it)



City Colleges Administrators can keep the sick days that they have already earned and cash them out when they retire. Local 1708 can keep the sick days that they have earned and cash them out when they retire.  CTU Local 1 can keep the sick days that they have earned and cash them out when they retire.  Only Local 1600 members must give up all earned sick day cash payouts.   

CTU Local 1:              KEPT SICK DAY PAYOUTS

Local 1708:             KEPT SICK DAY PAYOUTS

CCC Administrators:           KEPT SICK DAY PAYOUTS

Local 1600:           GAVE AWAY SICK DAY PAYOUTS

Mr. Buckley gave away ALL Local 1600 Sick Day Payouts for ALL Professionals and Faculty who cannot retire by July 2014.    (We earned this money from decades of hard work. Upon retirement, each of us cashes out an average of $100,000.00). CCC has about 1,500 Local 1600 members.  The sick day payouts that we lost are conservatively valued at over $100,000,000.00--One Hundred Million--dollars. 


CTU LOCAL 1 MEMBERS CAN CASH OUT ALL Sick Days earned as of October 2012 into perpetuity.

CTU Local 1 Tentative Agreement (see page 10 Article 37)

Article 37—New CTU Contract Agreement October 2, 2012:
“Old sick day banks are protected and can be used as they have always been used.  They can be cashed out upon retirement.”


LOCAL 1708 MEMBERS CAN CASH OUT ALL Sick Days earned as of July 2014 into perpetuity.

Article 9 (I) New Local 1708 Contract Agreement June 7, 2012:
“Local 1708 Employees hired before June 7, 2012 may accrue unlimited sick leave, but the payout is capped at the amount accrued as of July 1, 2014”


CCC ADMINISTRATORS CAN CASH OUT UP TO 200 Sick Days earned as of July 2012 into perpetuity.

CCC New Board of Trustees Ruling May 3, 2012:
“The number of sick days that can be paid to employees upon retirement will be capped at the number of days accumulated by July 1, 2012, or upon the date of retirement, whichever number is less, not to exceed 200 days.”



Note:  We Local 1600 members went on Strike in 1971 for nearly 30 days to gain the sick day payouts that we have maintained in our contracts for 31 years.



About a week before this offer was put to us for a vote, Mr. Buckley came to our colleges for the opening union meetings of Fall semester. At our meetings, he stated emphatically that he would absolutely support a strike rather than accept the contractual changes listed above. 

Days later, Mr. Buckley mailed a letter to us dictating that a vote on a proposed contract must take place immediately.  In this letter he forced upon us an unreasonable and arbitrary timeline of a few days—at the start of the semester—to vote on this critical contract that would impact the rest of our careers.  We were neither afforded adequate time to assess the impacts of the proposal, nor to confirm the statements made by Mr. Buckley in support of the proposal.
Mr. Buckley then came to our colleges campaigning “THIS IS THE BEST POSSIBLE DEAL THAT YOU WILL EVER GET.”  He told us that if we did not agree to it—the ONLY other alternative would be to lose absolutely everything in our contracts.

He told us “faculty will lose tenure* if we reject these contracts” and that “CCC Administrators and Local 1708 had already given up all of their sick day payouts” and that “all CCC employees now have to participate in the Wellness program.”  

* Our Tenure is Guaranteed by Illinois State Law in the Community college Tenure Act of 1980:

As a result of these and other misrepresentations, we were led to believe we didn’t have any other choice but to agree to the contracts.  We now know that this was not the case.  
We now also know that the forced timeline was designed exclusively to compel our submission. We were not told the truth about these contracts. We were deceived and we voted under threat and out of fear.


Mr. Buckley completely and deliberately excluded all of our elected representatives from these contract “negotiations”.  He shut out City Colleges Vice President Rochelle Dukes, and all seven elected Chapter Chairs.

What was the motivation behind removing all of our elected union leaders from the process? Why was Mr. Buckley the only Local 1600 representative present when this “deal” was cut?


Who did Mr. Buckley strike this deal with? He admitted to us freely that he struck this deal with the Mayor. This deal was supposedly an attempt to compel CTU President Karen Lewis to concede just as Mr. Buckley did. 

Mr. Buckley told us “this great deal was being offered to stop CTU from striking.” He said we must decide within 3 days of receiving the proposal so that the vote would occur before the CTU strike date. CTU leaders have since stated that the Local 1600 contract was a travesty and played no role at all in their decision to strike.

In retrospect, we now know the 3-day window was simply designed to deny us the opportunity to make an informed decision. We could not make an informed decision on this critical and complicated matter in 3 days.  It was even more impossible when we could not rely on the information presented to us. 

The Local 1600 contract offer was handled by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s brother-in-law Laurent Pernot “Vice Chancellor of Institutional Advancement”at 226 W. Jackson.   (One Chapter Chair who did support the contract was Daley College’s Todd Lakin whose wife Tania Brewster is on Laurent Pernot’s staff).

The Mayor’s brother-in-law, Laurent Pernot, presented the offer to Cheryl Hyman who then gave it to Mr. Buckley who signed it immediately. He did not negotiate for a single change. He did not seek the consent or agreement of a single elected leader of CCC’s membership.  

Why did Mr. Buckley agree to all of this? Why did he work so hard to sell it to us?  We do not know all of the reasons. What we do know is that he had already secured his financial future, and would not need to adapt to any of the aftermath including: the open-ended wellness program, merit/ success pay, eradication of raises, loss of sick day payouts, and the removal of steps and lanes.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Labor Peace at the CCC, CFL-Style

The union leadership of Local 1600 is making the rounds around the seven City Colleges of Chicago with the rallying cry of labor peace. They know that the tentative agreement that they are asking their members to ratify in the blink of an eye gives away a significant chunk of hard-won union rights and guarantees. Important things that have been in place for many, many years. They know that. They know that the membership will have to live with the consequences of such a surrender for many years and that no one in their right mind would spontaneously make these concessions. So what’s left? Fear.
The only thing the campaign for a yes vote has to offer is fear. Fear that catastrophe will ensue if this miserable offer is not taken now. That the administration will come for everything else that remains in the contract. That mysteriously people won’t be able to say NO to an even worse offer and fight together against it. In a twisted logic, the things that are not being sacrificed yet in the tentative agreement are being highlighted as if they were fresh gains. And the recompense will be labor peace.
But what does labor peace on these terms mean? In whose interest is this type of labor peace? Who is maneuvering behind the scenes for this labor peace?
There is a sad prequel to this story. As readers of this blog may remember, back in March we described how the union that represents the clerical and technical workers of the CCC, Local 1708, was ambushed into signing a terrible contract. Unfortunately, this defeat was facilitated by the Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL). As we wrote in this March post:
As 1708 grappled with the possibility of going on strike in a few days, the Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL) intervened. They told 1708 to sit tight, while they approached the Mayor. Their conditions: that 1708 did not polarize things and that it did not criticize the Reinvention.
Thus rather than getting ready to gather forces to support 1708’s fight as a portent of things to come, the CFL pressured 1708 into accepting a rotten deal.
It is a tragedy that things ended up this way. The other unions currently negotiating with the CCC bosses have now a more uphill battle: AFSCME, SEIU and IBEW. Soon enough they will be joined by CCCLOC, representing the adjunct faculty. They need to become aware that the script is not written in stone, that the CFL is supposed to be there to represent us, not to suffocate us. That it still is up to us to fight a full fight because if we don’t we are screwed. And because every time we get screwed, everyone else gets screwed too.
It is tragic, how unfortunately correct our assessment of the logical consequences has turned out to be. And it gets uglier, for it is a fact that, yet on another errand for the Mayor, the CFL brought together last week CCC Chancellor Hyman and Local 1600 president Buckley, over and over. Until this grand Tentative Agreement was hashed out. This is the epicenter of the virtuous quest for labor peace.
A labor peace that provides peace only to the bosses’ side (and to the union bureaucrats who get to duck yet another struggle). A peace that guarantees that our side won’t resist. A peace that that doesn’t provide peace of mind to the teachers, professionals and their families, who will have to feel on their flesh everyday for five years the violence of the consequences of this despicable contract. Some kind of peace.
One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that anything that is given away in this contract won’t be in the way to impede the unending demands for more that will come in the next one. When is it that you are supposed to draw a line on the sand if labor peace is the most important principle?
Labor peace is a euphemism for let’s not fight. But the origins of Local 1600 back in the 1960s stand out as an example of the willingness to fight. If labor peace had been the guiding principle, Local 1600 would have never been born.

Monday, August 27, 2012

CCC Teachers Mowed Down as Pawns in Emanuel’s War Against CTU

Out of the blue, the full-time teachers and professionals of the City Colleges of Chicago began receiving in the mail on Saturday, August 25 notification about a tentative contract they did not know was being negotiated and which they were being asked to ratify in less than a week. Their current contract does not expire until July 12, 2013. Why the rush?
Represented by AFT Local 1600, these educators were suddenly brought into the vortex of the struggle between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and their sister union, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), which represents 30,000 teachers and educational support staff at the Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
The Machiavellian strategy of the Mayor was on display for anyone who can see. He commanded CCC Chancellor Cheryl Hyman to extract from Local 1600’s leadership a signed promise to deliver a yes vote by September 3, the day before classes are scheduled to start at CPS:
“Local 1600 will recommend a “Yes” vote to all voting Local 1600 members to ratify this agreement. Local 1600 will conduct the contract ratification vote before Monday, September, 3, 2012.” [CCC-1600 tentative 2013-2018 collective bargaining agreement]
And to make sure that he could extract maximum advantage from these developments, Emanuel wanted to schedule a press conference for Friday, August 24 to inform Chicago about the tentative agreement. To show how he had managed to obtain a swift contract with a group of “reasonable” Chicago teachers who could then be diametrically opposed to the recalcitrant and unreasonable CTU. When Emanuel’s minions communicated to Local 1600’s president, Perry Buckley, that he wanted to hold the press conference on the 24th, Buckley responded in embarrassment that he needed the Mayor to wait longer because he needed more time to notify his union members. He did not want his members to first find out about the agreement from the press.
A tentative contract full of harmful concessions
As revolting as this is, it is not the whole story. The “reasonable” CCC teachers and professionals are being asked to ratify a contract that is extremely damaging to them and their families. And that is the second important reason for shoving this contract down their throats at rocket speed. They don’t want to give people enough time to analyze, discuss and propose alternatives to this miserable contract, and most importantly to prevent them from organizing to reject it. The chickens always come home to roost, and they are doing it with a vengeance. The logic of Reinvention has overtly come to exact its price from the flesh of these teachers and professionals who are the frontline of the education efforts at the CCC.
First, the contract surrenders the decades-old pay scale established in the form of a “steps” table. Every contract until now had a table that clearly specified the pay rate according to the degree of academic preparation (Masters, Ph.D.) acknowledging every year of experience (in steps). In the second year of the contract the steps will disappear. And with them any recognition of years of teaching experience. It is also path for completely doing away with seniority. This is precisely what CPS is demanding from the CTU, except that CTU’s leadership is standing firm in opposing it.
Instead the CCC got away with replacing the steps with a cost of living allowance (COLA), language that had never existed in previous 1600 contracts. The product of hard-won years of teaching experience replaced with the malleable notion of COLA. And what is the teacher’s COLA worth to the Cahncellor who makes over $275,000 per year? 2.50 percent per year. Because the step system will be removed in the same contract, this 2.5 percent will actually amount to about a 0.5 percent pay increase in relation to prior contracts. It’s a very poor deal for union members taking away not only seniority but their only real guarantee of a base pay raise over time.
Teachers asked to consent to performance pay
But this is not yet the whole story. The harmful practice of merit pay is also inserted into this collective slap in the face. The administration has inserted into the contract a potential 1% bonus which they have called “student success pay.” So instead of offering a 3.5% COLA, they are holding back 1% as a carrot that if granted will not become part of the base pay of the employees, it is merely a “commission”. But not every 1600 employee would partake in the “bonus.” Only teachers and the professionals charged with face-to-face contact with the students (e.g., the advisors) would be eligible for this 1%. The other professionals will be held to the 2.5% COLA. Initially, the 1% bonus will be granted on a District-wide basis, if the whole college system surpasses still unspecified criteria. This is abominable. Acceptance of this scheme amounts to acknowledgement by the union that the students are not successful enough because the teachers are not working hard/smart enough and therefore need the market-based corrective of an economic incentive to work harder/smarter. Contrast this surrender to merit pay with CTU’s firm opposition to it. Yet, the worst of merit/performance pay is still in the works.
The tentative agreement establishes as a legitimate procedure, that would be sanctioned by a yes vote, the post-contract-ratification development of individual merit pay schemes that would be legitimized through mechanisms such as a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that would be put together between the union leaders who are recommending this deplorable contract and the administration that is imposing it:
“Draft an MOU to form joint CCC-union committee to address…additional ways to measure individual merit, such as assessments that go across the departments.”
The formation of joint committees between the union and the administration is not a rare event. They do not need to be ratified in a contract. The specification of a MOU protocol for the formation of a joint committee to discuss any issue does not require a contract vote either. Why then insert and highlight such language in the very skimpy body of the tentative agreement? We are afraid that it is to establish facts on the ground, to have inscribed on the ribs of an approved contract that the CCC teachers have agreed in principle to let themselves be caught in the poisoned broth of individual performance pay. The CCC already extracted this concession earlier this year from their adult educators, who appear to us to have been sacrificed by their AFSCME local.
The CCC wants to introduce individual merit pay and they want it bad. Acceptance of the principle of performance pay is very damaging to educators and to students. It is like pregnancy; you are either pregnant or you are not. There are no degrees of pregnancy. Either you stand firm in rejecting any kind of performance pay or you succumb to it.
Surrendering pension benefits without a fight
Another set of very damaging concessions relate to the retirement benefits. The pensions of public employees in the state of Illinois have been under severe attack for years by a coalition of politicians (Gov. Quinn, House Speaker Madigan) and the billionaires of Illinois represented by the Commercial Club Of Chicago. The public employee unions have been fighting to oppose these unconstitutional changes ever since. However, the contract that Local 1600’s leadership recommends gives up these benefits without a fight:
“CCC pays premiums only for current retirees.”
“Sick days cannot be used for retirement enhancement if pension cost are shifted to CCC.”
It is absurd that just when the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) announced that it has filed a lawsuit against the legislation signed by Gov. Quinn last May allowing the government to renege on the constitutionally guaranteed contract provisions of our pensions, specifically the health care premiums, the tentative contract surrenders them in a particularly treacherous way. Only the premiums of the current retirees are preserved, reinforcing the unfortunate longstanding practice of Local 1600 of privileging their veterans and retired members at the expense of the rest of the union membership.
The second item is as insulting. Any sick days remaining in an employee’s sick days bank will be lost (or more properly stolen, even the cash out allowance has been thrown overboard) when he/she files for retirement. Again, those lucky enough to retire or have retired before July 12, 2013 will not have to pay the price, for there is very little doubt that the pension costs will be shifted to the CCC and all other individual state agencies as promised by Gov. Quinn and his partners in crime. Disgustingly enough, 1600’s leadership didn’t even secure a match to the agreement reached for District Office potentates who were allowed to grandfather in their sick days accumulated until this year. Sadly, the battle was over before it started.
Finally, there are additional concessions meant to further squeeze the income of the union’s membership under the perennial excuse that money is scarce. The hypocrisy of this statement is unbelievable. There are over 50 top-level administrators at District Office making well over $100,000 per year according to Carol Marin’s News 5 recent exposé. There are over $250 million allocated for Emanuel’s pet project, College to Careers, to build a new Malcolm X College building. There are millions of dollars spent in frivolous offices at District Office. But there is not enough money for the teachers and professionals healthcare insurance, increasing their premium contributions from 13 to 16 percent over the life of what will turn out to be a very long, 5-year contract. (Chipping away at the 2.5% COLA!)
Add to this the fact that the tentative agreement commits Local 1600 “to participate” in the Mayor’s Wellness Program (WP). This is extortion. The WP is a Trojan horse. Under the guise of looking after the health of city employees, the WP forces an employee to surrender to the “monitors” enough personal medical information to certify that the employee is having satisfactory progress (i.e., losing weight, cease smoking). Many have such hectic lives that finding time and energy to participate in such programs will be impossible. The end result is that those unable to participate in these programs will have their premiums jacked up $50 per month. But this is precisely the goal of the Mayor, to have workers pay an additional $600 per year in healthcare premiums. This is why the CTU is also rejecting this alleged “Wellness” Program. Tell you what Mayor, want to help workers improve their health? Stop overwhelming them with work, stress and pay and benefit reductions. Then they’ll have plenty of time to join a gym.
Future of education in Chicago at stake
And there are many other things wrong with this tentative contract that we don’t have time to go into. Such a lousy contract offered in exchange for betraying their union brothers and sisters at CTU is unconscionable. This is inexplicable. We could understand (but not condone) if the leadership of Local 1600 would have come to its membership with a juicy bribe to have them ignore CTU’s current fight, but not with this pathetic collection of concessions that damage the working conditions, standard of living and self-respect of the teachers and professionals of the CCC.
This is very unfortunate and ironic. When Local 1600 went on strike back in 2004, a significant factor propelling the strike was that the old, corrupt leadership of the CTU refused to fight back, rolled over and sacrificed their members in their contract negotiations the year before. The onus was placed then on 1600 to hold the line, which they did then despite numerous shortcomings. Roll the film forward to 2012. Now CTU has a leadership and a membership ready to fight. The same types of disgusting concessions are being demanded from both unions. The best chance they stand to win this fight is by joining together, shoulder to shoulder. There is no good reason why Local 1600 should be voting on a new contract ahead of the outcome of the CTU contract fight. Particularly because its current contract doesn’t expire for another 10 months. A victory by CTU, will only make it harder for Emanuel to impose onerous concessions on1600.
The lives of CCC teachers and professionals and those of their CTU brothers and sisters, as well as the future of education in Chicago are on the line. We urge you to vote NO on this disgraceful contract and get your comfortable sneakers out of the closet to join the CTU on the picket line!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Arrogance of Power

Word on the street is that the Chancellor's community relations minions are on the verge of alienating a large number of community groups who have been trying to help the CCC succeed. This is very bad... stay tuned.


Monday, April 2, 2012

CCC Inc.

The corridors of 226 W. Jackson, the headquarters of the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), have become increasingly surreal. While the full-time clerical workers represented by Local 1708 spent 20 months without a contract and the part-timers still have no contract (since the summer of 2011), the upper level administrators have been busy filling their ranks and sprucing up their so called District Office (DO). As we reported in our post of March 23, 2011, DO had managed to hire over a nine-month period, beginning in July, 2010, $5.1 worth of personnel (for only some 50 positions at an average of $95,000 per position) to work at their base of operations. As it was noted by many critics, none of these folks were going to be engaged in offering any education (i.e., teaching classes, staffing computer or science labs, tutoring, or providing necessary student services).
Politically embarrassed by this criticism, the administration did a tactical shift, engaged in a campaign of hiring more full-time faculty and advisors, and laid low for a while regarding their spending at DO. However, soon enough, the self-lavish switch was turned on again and the inflow resumed. Just in three months, during the period between July and December, the number of high-level, high-pay DO positions increased in pace, as if torrential rains were pouring down the CCC coffers. Particularly in November and December the number of Vice-Chancellors multiplied at the speed with which the Chancellor’s inner crew could come up with imaginative titles for their positions.
Education Leaders or Corporate Bosses?
Just in July, November and December of 2011, the CCC Board approved $2.5 million worth of DO positions. (You can see it yourself at the Board’s website Out of these $2.5 million, just under $1 million went to cover the salaries of eight high-level officers, including the new provost, Kojo Quartey, at $170,000 per year. It is important to note that for more than 100 years of existence, the CCC system did fine without a Provost. But the Gods must be crazy, or perhaps insatiably thirsty. Throughout their 20-month contract-seeking ordeal, 1708 kept on asking: what is Chancellor Hyman’s salary? Curiously enough her salary details have never been posted by the CCC Board of Trustees, which is required by law. In order to get an idea of her base salary (without those zany perks that allow her the perpetual renovation of her bullet proof, 14th floor office) one has to go to the website of the Illinois Higher Education Board: $275,000.  Soon enough her title will be changed to CEO, to be in line with the complete corporatization of the CCC.
1708 was offered for nearly 20 months zero percent raises for five years. Yet out of the blue Emanuel found $240 million to build a new Malcolm X building for Obama’s, “College to Careers” vocationalization of the CCC crusade. WTF? Sorry we got confused, we meant, Emanuel’s “Collage to Careers” crusade. According to the CCC’s publicity rag  named The 411, Obama’s vocationalization scheme is named “Community College to Career,” and has an $8 billion tag. See it for yourselves:
A Conversation with Michael Blake
Tonight at Kennedy-King College, join former Associate Director of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement for a discussion of the role of community colleges and the communities they serve (6pm-8pm, Main Theater, U-building). Blake will also speak about his road to the White House, the direction of education in the United States, and the announcement of the president’s proposed $8 billion “Community College to Career” program. (from The 411, Issue 10, March 21, 2012)
See the difference? Seriously, though, now the evidence is out in the open that “Collage to Careers” and the Reinvention were conceived at Arne Duncan’s office in DC, and that the CCC is the laboratory of the Obama administration. And guess who are the lab rats.
The corporate hacks that now soak the halls of 226 W. Jackson made their way there through the CPS Central Office and the Commercial Club of Chicago’s Civic Committee. Back then when Arne Duncan was in charge of CPS, he and the Civic Committee worked hand in hand to bring the plague of charter schools to Chicago’s neighborhoods. (If you have any questions about who the Commercial Club of Chicago is and its omnipresent power in the land of Al Capone, please read our post The Biggest Shark in the Reinvention Pond: The Commercial Club of Chicago.) Then Civic Committee fellows began showing up working for CPS. And then Abracadabra, once the Reinvention was invented, these same business operatives mushroomed at CCC headquarters and the various colleges. Vice Chancellor in Charge of Reinvention Alvin Bisarya and Harold Washington College President Donald Laackman are two prominent examples. Bisarya comes from the consulting firm McKinsey and Co. while Laackman spent 23 years at Andersen Consulting, nowadays known as Accenture. They both went to CPS through the Commercial Club of Chicago’s Civic Committee, and are now ruling over us at the CCC.
We haven’t seen yet the full extent of the transubstantiation of the CCC from a bridge for the working class and immigrants to a bachelor’s degree to the free, scouting farm for the corporations. We must not wait until this nightmare, like Freddy Krueger’s, fully overtakes our real world. There is a time to fight back, and the time is now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

CCC Bosses Force Local 1708 into a Straightjacket and the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor Goes to the Chicago Federation of Labor

At the beginning of March, the members of Local 1708, which represents the clerical and technical workers at all City Colleges, voted to accept a contract for full-time employees that severely erodes the pay, benefits and job security of these workers. It didn’t need to be this way. They had fought a valiant fight since June 30, 2010 when their contract expired. For those 20 months they worked without a contract, their wages frozen. On June 30, 2011, their part-time brothers and sisters also saw their contract expire, and their wages frozen too. Yet, they held steady, refusing to accept what was an unbelievable offer by the CCC administration: a five-year contract with no pay raises and hefty increases in their healthcare premiums.

Then things came to a head by the end of February. 1708 had had it. Federal mediation was going nowhere, and the administration continued its stubborn stance. 1708 attempted to declare an impasse and their intention to strike. Then came in a new player, from within the realm of smoke and mirrors.

Fade in: the Chicago Federation of Labor
As 1708 grappled with the possibility of going on strike in a few days, the Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL) intervened. They told 1708 to sit tight, while they approached the Mayor. Their conditions: that 1708 did not polarize things and that it did not criticize the Reinvention. What planet do these folks live in? Polarize things? Things were polarized already by a recalcitrant administration intent on imposing a five-year wage freeze on 1708. All 1708 was doing was calling things the way they were, defending themselves. And to have the gall to demand that the Reinvention not be criticized clearly exposes where the idea originally came from. From an administration that has openly espoused a practice in which the only message allowed about the Reinvention is the message of the administration. A 100 percent control—nothing less. Wouldn’t Stalinist Russia be proud? What are they so afraid of?
It is despicable for the CFL to demand that 1708 did not criticize the Reinvention when everything that was being inflicted on the union’s membership was done in the name of Reinvention.
Thus rather than getting ready to gather forces to support 1708’s fight as a portent of things to come, the CFL pressured 1708 into accepting a rotten deal. A six-year contract in which the first two years still remain as a frozen wage period (going back to July, 2010), with annual raises of between 3 and 3.5 percent for the remainder of the contract; increases in the healthcare premiums as high as 15 percent for family coverage; the introduction of a union buster: two-tier wage scales, so new hires will make less than their counterparts.
Even worse, with such an exacting contract, the part-timers are now sitting ducks. This became painfully true once the full-timers approved their contract, for a no strike clause keeps them from striking in support of the part-timers. One thing would have been to have won a successful contract; the benefits of which would have spilled onto the part-timers. But as things stand now the part-timers lost most of their leverage. Not only will the terms of any potential contract look gloomy, but these will come back to haunt the full-timers. Why? Because the wonders of Reinvention have made it possible to vanish many 1708 full-time positions or to turn them into part-time positions. And more of this is yet to come. The corporate hacks at 226 West Jackson are not finished yet restructuring the colleges.
The consequences of this rotten deal for the rest of the CCC unions are ominous. Thanks, but no thanks CFL. With friends like these who needs enemies. This should serve as a warning to the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) in their struggle against another recalcitrant, corporate-drunk administration, that of CPS.
Another script was possible
It is important to emphasize that the 3 to 3.5 percent that 1708 indeed got for part of their contract did not come out of thin air. What was on the cards was not higher than 1 to 1.5 percent per year. It was the determination of 1708, and their willingness to go on strike if necessary, that made the CCC bosses aware that they could not get away with an absolute rout. It was this determination what the CFL came in to deflate in the name of pragmatism. Pragmatists never lose battles because they never fight them. They just sit down sipping piña coladas, earning humongous salaries from their members’ dues, even while losing many of these members to things like Reinvention.
We cannot predict what would have happened, had a strike by 1708 taken place. But we know what steps were being taken to offer 1708 the best solidarity that could be organized from the bottom up. Solidarity that would have put the CCC bosses on notice that 1708 was not alone in this battle. Things like having the union members working within Occupy Chicago ready to go to the leadership and rank and file of their unions and demand real, physical support for 1708. Things like having the General Assembly of Occupy Chicago approve full support for a 1708 strike and engage in all sorts of solidarity actions. They were ready. On day one of the strike droves of Occupy Chicago men and women were going to show up at the City Colleges and City Hall, and you name it. The kind of stuff that has allowed the Occupy movement to electrify and reenergize all sorts of struggles.
Of course, this was no guarantee that a strike would have been won. It was more of a guarantee that it would have been fought vigorously, without a hand tied behind our backs. Compared to the resources that the CFL could have wielded in a real fight in support of 1708, what we described above is modest. Yet its promise is powerful.
It is a tragedy that things ended up this way. The other unions currently negotiating with the CCC bosses have now a more uphill battle: AFSCME, SEIU and IBEW. Soon enough they will be joined by CCCLOC, representing the adjunct faculty. They need to become aware that the script is not written in stone, that the CFL is supposed to be there to represent us, not to suffocate us. That it still is up to us to fight a full fight because if we don’t we are screwed. And because every time we get screwed, everyone else gets screwed too.
It is the same way if we win. Now, think about that.