The Chicago Teachers Union's Big Bargaining Team shot down a four-year contract offer from the Chicago Public Schools on Monday.
The Big Bargaining Team rejected the offer in part "because it does not address the difficult conditions in the schools, the lack of services to our neediest students or address the long-term fiscal crisis that threatens to gut public education in the city," reads a statement from the union.
The decision means the contract offer will not move forward to the union's House of Delegates, and labor talks between CTU and the Chicago Public Schools will enter the final "fact-finding" stage of negotiations. Fact finding has to occur before a teachers strike could happen.
The proposed contract offer would have reportedly phased out the district's pension pickup for teachers and increased health care costs for union members. Teachers would have received slight increases in their compensation under the contract offer, which also called for a limit on charter schools.
"Chicago Public Schools (CPS) challenges are a revenue-based problem because two of the three biggest cost drivers are things that have to be paid: pensions and debt service (which includes the swap termination payments)," CTU President Karen Lewis said in a statement Monday afternoon. "The third biggest cost driver is charter school proliferation--and though they've promised to halt charter expansion there is a state commission that can override their decision. There are no guarantees."
CPS has a $480 million budget hole it is seeking to close through state-level pension changes.
"Simply signing a contract with CPS will not bring them a windfall of resources from the state," Lewis added. "We have to exhaust every option available, which includes terminating those swap deals, returning the TIFs to the schools and a financial transaction tax that could bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the city. Without some real movement on the revenue problems, we can't trust that they will honor any words offered in a four-year contract deal."
UPDATE 1 (5:11 p.m.): Citing "disappoint[ment]" with the union's decision, CPS CEO Forrest Claypool says the district will continue bargaining talks with CTU labor leaders in hopes of reaching an agreement:
Despite unprecedented financial problems that threaten our classrooms, CPS reached a tentative agreement with CTU leadership after 14 months of negotiations - including 18 straight days at the end of talks. This agreement provided pay raises, guaranteed job security and met the union's key demands, including restrictions on charter school expansion, raises for seniority in addition to cost-of-living increases, and more classroom autonomy for teachers.
While we are disappointed by today's result, CPS remains committed to reaching an agreement with our partners at the CTU that is in the best interest of our students, parents, teachers and city. We are committed to returning to the bargaining table and working around the clock to reach an agreement. As we continue to bargain, we must move forward with plans that restore fiscal stability to the District.