Dear Commons Community,
The Chicago Public Schools announced on Thursday that all of its employees, including teachers, will take three unpaid furlough days this year, prompting the teachers union to warn that its members will all but certainly strike on April 1. As reported in the Chicago Sun-Times:
“Schools chief Forrest Claypool already has threatened that he could at any time yank the 7 percent of 9 percent pension contribution CPS makes on the teachers’ behalf. And that led the CTU to ramp up their talk of walking off the job on April 1 in an unfair labor practice strike.
Late Thursday, Claypool wrote to all employees blaming Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner who’s “more interested in forcing bankruptcy and taking over our schools than in addressing the unequal funding issues that hurt districts like ours across the state.
“We know we cannot cut our way to a solution,” Claypool said. “However, the governor’s inaction means we must continue to cut costs and ease our cash flow, so we can do what’s necessary to ensure our classrooms are protected and our students’ progress is uninterrupted.”
CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey denounced the cuts equivalent to about 1.6 percent pay cut, acknowledging that they’re legal under state law, but calling them ”outrageous, unilateral and unfair.”
“This is just a hardship on employees. and to make matters worse, it’s on top of a 7 percent unilateral pay cut coming April 1,” he continued. “The level of anger is getting to a point where people are going to start taking action. Right now there’s an action planned on April 1, and I think this all but assures there’s a walkout coming.”
…CPS has struggled all year to balance its budget and recently borrowed $725 million in bonds at high interest rates to keep school doors open for the remainder of the year. It has laid off 200 administrative employees and earlier this week, another 62 union workers including 17 teachers after cutting per pupil funding almost 5 percent.
Claypool had been banking on state legislators to close a $480 million gap, but the Democrat-led General Assembly and Republican governor have been deadlocked on the state budget for eight months.
CPS has furloughed staffers in recent years but only those not represented by unions. In 2010 and 2011, the district mandated 15 unpaid holidays, furloughs and shutdown days for all non-union staffers, and in 2009, those same employees took six unpaid days.”
A sad state of affairs for the Chicago schools!