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CHTU Update - 8.17.16

Dear Colleagues

Welcome back – two words every teachers is thrilled to hear.  Better to say something more realistic like, “aren’t you glad you got all that sleep in the summer stored up so you can make it to winter break?”

This summer was a little like purgatory – not quite sure where we are, could be worse, could be better.  Waiting.  Negotiations got delayed by administration after we met July 18.  At this point we are working without a contract, which means everything from the old contract is still in place.  Same pay.  Same hours.  Same working conditions.  Same procedures for filing grievances.  Etc. Negotiations reconvenes August 24 and 25th after school.  Perhaps we will get to money issues.  Perhaps not.  If we come to agreement and have an offer we will bring it to our 795 Executive Board to endorse or not endorse.  We will call a membership meeting after all the facts are out.  At that meeting we will either accept or reject the offer.

My concern about the timing of these negotiations is that we are not settled and we have a crucial levy to pass in November.  Without the levy I would press ahead for a strike authorization vote if there was an unacceptable offer on the table.  I am reluctant to recommend a strike vote before November because I believe it will make the levy harder to pass. On the other hand, administration believes that if they give us much earned raises that “the community” won’t like that and will vote down the levy.  Raises are easily defensible if they had the will.  It would go something like this – “our teachers deserve as much as we can give them for the hard work they are doing.  If only we could raise salaries even more.  We can’t ask our employees to go another year without more money since they have only seen 3.5% increases in 5 years.”  It is unlikely that we will hear those words coming from our Board or administration, so we face a conundrum.

What is wrong with the virtual contract extension that we currently have?

Probably nothing except that we are in limbo and half our membership will be taking home less money than last year because of the lost one percent being deducted for STRS.  We can gamble and work toward the levy passing, then get down to business.  We would bargain to make raises retroactive.  Getting something after a long wait is better than getting nothing or having labor unrest right before a levy.

What are the alternatives?

There are not pretty alternatives. 

Taking a strike vote on a zero raise offer is risky.  A strike vote authorizes us to call a strike, if needed.  If we don’t get a strong vote then it weakens us and we have to accept a bad contract.  There is also no use in threatening an action if we do not follow through.  A strike vote is a motivator for administration and the Board, but only if people are actually willing to strike.  It may surprise you to know there could be other issues that are more important to some members than money. 

We can try to show solidarity around different actions that will show administration that we are together.  It will only be meaningful if we are willing to act collectively.

What are your thoughts?

If you are interested in letting our Union Officers know how you feel about our present situation, please click (here) and write your comments.  Your response will be anonymous unless you write your name on it.

Other summer work.

Vice President Rego and I have been updating the Survival Guide for distribution.  It is amazing how many new acronyms we have to add or subtract from the list.

We have gotten caught up on some of our office responsibilities (like cleaning and filing).  Five members attended two different Union Leadership Institutes.  We have continued all of the regular things we do over the summer; helping with license concerns, processing disability claims, helping with leaves of absences, working with the Heights Coalition for Public Education, assisting our ER&D program where needed, and much more.

Need your help.

I have attached an explanation of several different projects we are working on that will require your help.  Building stewards have sign up sheets and should bring this up at your first staff meeting on Thursday.  Try to find at least one thing you can do.  Thank you in advance for your help. (link to explanation sheet)

In Union,

Ari Klein
CHTU President

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