Tuesday, July 03, 2007

CPS Teachers Without a Contract

The current contract for Chicago Public School teachers expired on Saturday. So I don't have a contract. Marilyn Stewart, our esteemed Chicago Teachers Union president, was interviewed on 848 on Chicago Public Radio about the negotiations this morning. We won't have a new contract until well into the fall -- no one will go on strike in the summer. They'll at least wait until we get a couple of paychecks under our belts.

We almost went on strike during our last contract negotiation. Which is why we ended up with such a crappy contract. That was my first year teaching in Chicago. So I had enough to worry about without dealing with strike authorizations. I think the CTU leadership believes that strike talk will make Arne Duncan listen to our demands, but I think it just scares the membership into accepting whatever contract we can get. Arne will get paid no matter what -- but I can't afford to strike. We're still figuring out how much we can afford for childcare.

They've been talking about striking since last fall. So it'll be interesting to see what happens when I go back to work next month.

Two major problems with the current contract are the health insurance premiums and the lack of job security. Right now, when your pay goes up, so do your premiums. And until you are tenured (which is at the discretion of your principal), your principal can fire you anytime he or she wants to. With no questions asked and no right to due process.

I was really concerned I would be fired while on maternity leave. It happens fairly regularly. But so far, so good. I had to go to CPS on Friday to officially report to service -- my maternity leave is over. I had a new position number, but I still have a position. So that's something.

I don't know what my concerns are about the new contract. Job security would be nice, but now that I have four years of experience, my principal can fire me whenever she wants, but she at least has to give me a reason. That's what four years in CPS earns you. Of course, my four months of maternity leave don't count towards that four years, so I'm really not out of the woods until the end of December.

My biggest issue is the fact that CPS teachers do not get any pay during maternity leave. That and I think CPS teachers should get some kind of childcare assistance or incentives. About half my salary is going to pay for childcare for Emiko. Thank God Todd is not a teacher. I don't know how people do it. But the union does not seem interested in tackling those issues.

But if we go on strike, think of the stories I can tell! Although I'm pretty sure crazy student stories are more entertaining.

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