$25 Million Chicago Teacher Payout Causing New Conflict Between Union And CPS | WBEZ
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$25 Million Chicago Teacher Payout Causing New Conflict Between Union And CPS

An unresolved item from the Chicago teachers contract deal is generating new conflict between the Chicago Teachers Union and the school district.

The dispute is over how $25 million for veteran teachers agreed to in the contract settled in October will be paid out. The union says the school district is reneging on a promise to pay the money out via a raise, while a CPS source says there was no agreement. The source says the union is misleading members and stirring bad blood.

The union has filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board and is encouraging its members to protest the Board of Education.

This $25 million over five years for veteran teachers was offered at the last minute in a meeting on October 30, with teachers still on picket lines for a tenth day. For both the union and the city, there was mounting pressure and exhaustion. The union accepted the deal without getting the details in writing of how the money would be doled out.

But union lawyer Josiah Groff said that the CTU was clear it wanted this money in a raise added to the salary schedule. He said school district officials knew this and agreed.

The school district is proposing a compromise: Add some of the money to the salary schedule and then pay out the rest as a one-time bonus. The bonus is causing the conflict.

A bonus does not compound, as a raise does. It also does become a permanent part of the salary schedule, which could be hard to eliminate in future contracts. The CPS source notes that other school districts offer bonuses for long-time teachers, often called longevity bonuses.

But Groff points out that Chicago Public Schools does not pay out bonuses for anything else.

Additional money for veteran teachers was a key demand of the union during the strike. Called steps, teachers get raises for each year of experience until year 14. After that, teachers must wait several years before they get another raise based on experience.

With the $25 million, the union wants to shorten the time between steps for veteran teachers.

Sarah Karp covers education for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter at @WBEZeducation and @sskedreporter.

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