Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced the layoff of 62 employees last week, including 17 teachers. The district also announced a plan to end to its practice of picking up pension costs for teachers, leading to renewed threats of a strike from the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU).
The cuts come as the CTU and CPS continue talks to replace a contract that expired at the end of June 2015. The two are currently in the fact-finding phase required before teachers can go on strike, which will last until May.
The CTU, however, believes that timetable could be greatly shortened if CPS moves forward with the pension cuts, a “unilateral change” they consider a violation of labor laws. If the phase-out is enacted, the union has stated it is prepared to strike in April.
Forty Schools Affected by Layoffs
- 19 part-time employees were laid off, including 12 part-time aides
- Only one high school lost two teachers; in other schools, no more than one teacher was lost in the layoffs
- A number of security officers as well as teacher, clerk and guidance counselor assistants have been laid off
- In total, 40 schools will be affected by this recent round of layoffs
Ending Pension Cost Pickup Translates to Pay Cut, Possible Strike
CPS currently picks up seven of the nine percentage points that teachers are required to contribute to their pensions. According to the CTU, ending that practice will reduce pay by seven percent. The union’s bargaining team has already rejected proposals that included the pension pickup phase-out.
School Board Faces Bankruptcy
Chicago Public Schools has faced financial trouble in recent years. School budgets have been made up of borrowed funds and unpromised state aid. The school system has reduced per-student spending as they wait for a proposal to be passed allowing the district to file for bankruptcy.
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