CTU and CPS Talks Go Sour: The Gloves Are Off

Today, in a letter addressed to Chicago Teachers Union President, Karen Lewis—Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool has pulled the plug.

Forrest Claypool
Chicago Public Schools CEO-Forrest Claypool

After CTU’s 40-member “Bargaining Board” rejected the latest Board of Education contractual offer at yesterday’s meeting—Claypool issued the following letter to Lewis.
I was very disappointed to hear that the CTU’s bargaining team rejected the January 29, 2016 tentative agreements after the very long and arduous work of our respective negotiators. I have directed the Board’s bargaining team to make itself available to meet with your representatives and the mediator immediately in the hope of finding a positive path forward,” Claypool wrote.
The letter continues to make clear of the Board’s actions that will impact CTU in 30 days which includes:
Discontinuation of the pension pick-up for the bargaining unit no sooner than 30 days from the date of the letter (February 2, 2016), saving the Board of Education $130 million annually in pension cuts.
Claypool will direct administrators to create a reduction in force plan which will achieve savings of $50 million with layoffs occurring as soon as he finds practicable.
Lastly, the Board will implement waiver provisions that will allow $50 million in savings re-purposing Title I and Title II funds in general education funding to the schools which claims to not have an impact on school budgets.
Chicago Teachers Union President-Karen Lewis
Chicago Teachers Union President-Karen Lewis

The letters notably copied both CTU executive officers, Joseph T. Moriaty and Jesse Sharkey.
CTU has released an official statement today, angry at this latest move by CPS to put pressure on the union to settle on terms that would halt pension pick up for new hires and eventually phase out pension pick ups by current CTU members. In an official statement by the union.
The mayor has had every opportunity to pursue revenue from his wealthy friends and backers. Instead he has targeted educators and students to pay for the Board’s mismanagement. CPS has shot down the flag of truce and peace talks are over. It is time for Chicago’s educators and public school supporters to take off the gloves and head out to the streets.”
There will be a scheduled rally on Thursday, February 4 at 4:30pm taking place at the Bank of America downtown headquarters and ending at City Hall.
This latest protest is directly aimed at Bank of America and other financial institutions that sold CPS toxic interest rate swaps. They are demanding a payout of at least $228 million, which CTU says is almost the exact same amount as the recent cuts enacted by the Board to schools and special education at the same time.  In CTU’s official release, they believe in total—the City and CPS is expecting to lose $1.2 billion on the swaps. CTU has asked the Board to be a partner in challenging these rip off, toxic swap deals for years.
The union has announced they will close their Bank of America account of $700,000 and relocate their funds to Amalgamated Bank.
Over 1,000 lay-offs of CTU members are expected to take place, along with $100 million in classroom cuts that CPS is proposing. After approximately three weeks of negotiations and what appeared to be a bit of sunshine from a 15-month cloudy storm to reach a four-year agreement—the two parties are back at the drawing board.
Who really loses? Our kids. What a lesson to learn. 
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