Delegates were not receiving written contract language about the deal so some wanted to keep the strike in place until they could see written language and bounce it off their constituents in schools.The distrust leading union delegates to ask for more time and details makes sense, given how Chicago Public Schools management has treated teachers in recent years. Once teachers leave the picket lines, they face a real possibility that management will pull back on any details not yet hammered out in the proposed contract.
Lewis said the delegates don’t trust the school board at this point.
“Why would you make a decision on something you haven’t had a chance to look at?” she said. “They have language. They see the language. But it’s not finished. We’ve been almost guaranteed that it might be finished by Tuesday.”
According to a CTU press release prior to the House of Delegates meeting, the proposed contract offers teachers a 7 percent raise over three years, with an option for a 3 percent raise in a fourth year if both sides agreed; does not include merit pay (which has repeatedly been shown not to work); includes the hiring of 600 art, music, language, and physical education teachers; and caps the use of student test scores in teacher evaluations at 30 percent, with 70 percent of evaluations being based on "teacher practice." Additionally, it calls for students to receive textbooks on the first day of classes, and for nurses, social workers, and other wrap-around service providers to be hired if additional sources of revenue can be located.
Delegates will talk to the teachers they represent on Monday and Tuesday and meet again for a possible vote Tuesday, making Wednesday the earliest possible day schools might reopen.
“This union is a democratic institution, which values the opportunity for all members to make decisions together. The officers of this union follow the lead of our members,” President Lewis said. She continued, “the issues raised in this contract were too important, had consequences too profound for the future of our public education system and for educational fairness for our students, parents and members for us to simply take a quick vote based on a short discussion. Therefore, a clear majority voted to take this time and we are unified in this decision.”