Six sources of power for the Chicago Teachers Union – wirepoints
By: Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner
Chicago Teachers Union is out on the Chicago kids once again. This is the fifth time in ten years.
As the CTU / CPS stalemate enters a new week, it is important to understand where the teachers’ union’s power to disrupt the lives of 300,000 children and their parents comes from: state bargaining laws, a long history of appeasement by the CPS, generous compensation and political weight.
The unions made a mess of Chicago, but it’s the politicians who are more to blame. They are the ones who either give in to the union’s demands or grant them even more power.
It should be easy for every Chicago resident – and every Illinois resident who ends up paying in one way or another for Chicago’s problems – to link the many crises created by CTU to their local legislator. Any legislator who voted last year to increase the negotiating power of the CTU and / or to put amendment 1 in the November ballot effectively supports the actions of the union.
For Illinoisians looking to hold their elected officials to account, here are six ways lawmakers are complicit in the CTU’s buildup of immense power:
1. The CTU is empowered by some of the most union-friendly collective bargaining laws in the country. Illinois lawmakers not only force governments to negotiate with public sector unions on a multitude of issues, not just wages, but they also make teacher strikes legal – one of 13 states to do so ( see appendix 1). This is in stark contrast to states like North Carolina, which completely ban collective bargaining with teacher unions.
CTU won even more bargaining power last year, when Governor JB Pritzker enacted Law HB2275, increasing the number of employment issues that can be negotiated by the union.
2. CTU is emboldened by its long history of strike action. The union has a long history of successful strikes and walkouts: 1969, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 2012, 2016 *, 2019, 2021 *, 2022 * (see appendix 2). * disengages
3. Chicago leaders have always appeased the union. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has twice given in to the union’s demands. First in 2012 after a week of strike, then again in 2016 after a day of walkout. Mayor Lightfoot has also appeased the union on several occasions. Just two years ago, his starting contract offer, the “most generous” in the history of the SPC, met an 11-day strike. And in January 2021, when Chicago teachers refused to show up for work in defiance of a return to classrooms directive, Lightfoot pushed back the school start date. again and again instead of facing the union.
4. The union enjoys strong support from its well-paid members. A large majority of Chicago teachers still agree with the union’s actions. In 2016, 95 percent of the union’s voting members were in favor of a strike. In 2019, 94 percent of teachers voted in favor of the strike. And last week 73 percent of CTU members voted to return to distance learning.
The stake for the members is one of the most generous compensations of the country. Chicago Public Schools pay teachers salaries that are among the highest compared to the nation’s 148 largest school districts, according to the National Council for Teacher Quality. For new teachers with BAs, CPS pays $ 60,000 in salary, the highest in the comparison group. For most other levels of education and experience, Chicago consistently ranks in the top five (see Appendix 3).
The average CPS career educator retires at age 62 with a severance pension of $ 74,000 and can expect to collect over $ 2.3 million in retirement.
5. The union exerts its influence through millions of political spending and lobbying. Beyond the picket line, the union collects millions of membership dues which are then spent on lobbying, legal issues and political campaigns. Prior to its two-week strike in 2019, for example, the union spent the previous 15 months $ 1.5 million on lobbying and other political activities. He also spent $ 1.2 million on ACANs for allied candidates and groups.
6. Politicians encouraged the union by submitting Amendment 1 to the November ballot, signaling that they are in favor of even more power for public sector unions. This amendment, if approved by Illinois voters, will enshrine collective bargaining rights in the constitution, denying any chance of future labor reforms and subsequent property tax relief.
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