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!
This post is so far removed from the truth that it makes a casual reader wonder just what your agenda is. Is it just the ramblings of a former, discredited hourly employee or an attempt by the lefties to mislead union members and get them to martyr themselves for "the cause"? Give it your best shot. As always sanity will prevail despite your efforts.ReplyDelete
Perry has succeeded in converting the inevitable fight between District Office and Local 1600 into a internal fight within Local 1600. Perry is taking his orders from Jorge Ramirez, who in turn is Rahm's flunkey. Playing possum with District Office will only embolden them to push harder. This agreement is not "kicking the can down the road" it is surrender.Delete
There is no internal fight. You seem to prefer personal attacks to a rational discussion of the issues. I don't think Perry takes orders from anyone and I doubt that the President of the Chicago Federation of Labor is anyone's flunky. This agreement is in the best interests of the membership. Spare us your goofy conspiracy theories and paranoid fantasies. Occupy this!Delete
Perry Buckley has always been an arrogant snob, a self dealing and devious union official and first rate political ass kisser. I am sure that he celebrated this latest deal by emptying several bottles of wine. Buckley will be living in retirement in the United Kingdom, where he dodged the draft while earning his degrees, when the diminished CCCTU has to negotiate its next contract. He could give a damn about the faculty at the City Colleges. Rahm Emanuel will see to it that Buckley is invited to visit the White House and that is all that matters to the sell out.Delete
Getting a 4.4% raise the first year and 2.5% compounded for each of the next four with the opportunity for a bonus in each year doesn't sound like getting "mowed down" to me. It sounds pretty good for these times. If you want to strike join the CTU. I want to teach and have labor peace for the next 6 years. VOTE YES!ReplyDelete
Although you will be locked into a contract, you will not have labor peace. Taking a weak contract after one week of discussion 11 months early only signals weakness to district office. 5 years from now you won't be teaching, just filling out papers and handing out passing grades. You won't have any control over content or quality of your teaching.Delete
Getting a 4.4% raise the first year and 2.5% compounded for each of the next four ...ReplyDelete
This is short-sighted thinking. Don't allow yourself to be blinded by the dangling money carrot. There is far more at stake. Times are hard, no doubt; however, once you give up a negotiated right that is now in place it is rarely reinstated without significant concessions. Don't be foolish. Protect what you have right now, when the economy improves so will salary.
So what "negotiated right" do you think you are giving up? The highest overload in the state? No. The highest summer pay rate in Illinois? No. Job security? No? post tenure evaluation? No. System wide senority? No. This is a decent contract. Vote your own best interest. Short sighted thinking? Labor peace and decent money for 6 years is pretty long sighted if you ask me.ReplyDelete
Perry spends more time talking about what is *not* in the offer than he does what is actually in the offer. He also treats the District Office threats 11 months before the contract expires as a "last, best and final" offer. You are being cajoled and brow beat. A good contract doesn't require these kinds of hard sell used car salesman tactics.Delete
Giving up steps and an entire lane without clear updated salary #'s being provided for their replacement is really treasonous. Of course its a bad contract. Good contracts do not require the urgency, scare tactics, and are opaqueness that this contract presents. Vote no. surely vote no.ReplyDelete
Surprise, surprise, the CCC now wants to force a garbage contract upon the adjunct faculty members that mirrors the lane changes in the full time faculty's lousy contract. The problem that the CCC does not want to acknowledge is that adjuncts earn only a fraction of what their full time counterparts make for performing the same classroom work without most of the benefits. The CCC is trying to ramrod the contract through after only three negotiation sessions since Perry Buckley folded so quickly. The proposed adjunct pay raises are miniscule. It seems obvious that with the CPS strike continuing, Rahm Emanuel desperately wants to publicize another "labor" accord involving educators.Delete
Those steps were meaningless. How many steps have you moved in the last five years? Two? Here's some numbers: multiply your current pay by .o44. That's a step in the first year. Add that to your pay and then multiply by .025 that's your raise for the second year repeat 3 more times. If you move a lane you get a real 11% raise unlike the current lose steps and move right stuff that is worth about 4%. What scares me is that you people are college professors. This is a no brainer. VOTE YES! It is not going to get any better than this even with a long strike next year.ReplyDelete
Those numbers you quote are weak compared to almost all other contracts Local 1600 has signed in recent years. Besides that .025 you are talking about is 25% below the rate of inflation. You will be getting poorer. But, Perry won't have to work under this contract. So it was easy for him to make this deal. As your job gets worse he will be off living on his six figure pension, a pension you probably won't see.Delete
Not counting my lane increase (& as a PhD I'll be missing my opportunity to move to lane 4) my yearly average is more like a 3.4% increase annually. This contract is without question a significant loss for me. If you're such fan, why don't you sign your post? Sadly, you are just another symbol of the pathetic attempts to badger those that actually want truthful answers.Delete
What truthful answers do you want? All language in the contract remains the same except that in the tentative agreement that was mailed to all members. Read it. Insurance co-pays and deductibles remain at the current contractual rate for another six years! Post tenure language remains the same. We will be protected from re-invention schemes for another six years. If you have some other agenda just state it instead of questioning the motives of our president who has always had our best interests as his number one priority. Maybe you should get out more and check how much other local 1600 members pay for health care. This agreement is the best thing for all of us right now maybe except for some with a personal agenda.Delete
Then please provide us (as this is surely not my personal vendetta) with the new salary structure that will occur with the ratification of this contract, this agreement clearly overwrites this from the existing contract. All the mailing was was an (ineffective) marketing powerpoint, certainly not a document provided to share real information.ReplyDelete
Look, its already clear from the majority of fellow faculty members I've spoken to that this will be rejected, but if this is really an honest offer than provide honest answers, not soundbites.
Anonymous supporting the outline of an offer writes:ReplyDelete
"We will be protected from re-invention schemes for another six years."
You don't even work in CCC do you? We are already have a contract and reinvention schemes have been put in place that make our jobs harder. This offer does not protect us from those reinvention schemes.
Yes, in fact, I do and I am having no trouble computing what my salary will be for the next 6 years. We are employees and our union contract provides us with job security that few others enjoy today. Those protections remain in tact under the tentative agreement. I'm sorry that you feel that your job is harder. Maybe you could find an easier line of work. As for the rest of us, your little group may not like the agreement but most of my colleagues are willing to live with it and vote yes to keep the jobs that we love under the same working conditions that we now enjoy. By the way, you are anonymous too, aren't you? Do you think that that diminishes your arguments as much as you seem to think that it diminishes mine.ReplyDelete
CCC's (personally speaking, Daley's)administrators are all kiss ass idiots who continue to make 6 figure salaries and implement arbitrary changes to hurt the quality of our programs.ReplyDelete
It's not hard to see why so many Deans are leaving for other city colleges.