News briefs

Chicago union, district reach deal to hire teachers for longer school day

Public schools in Chicago will hire more teachers to create a longer school day rather than ask existing teachers to work more hours under the terms of an interim agreement reached in late July between the school district and the union in the midst of contentious collective bargaining.

The unilateral move by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Public Schools to extend teachers’ workday and year by 20 percent in exchange for a 2 percent wage hike was beaten back by the Chicago Teachers Union, an AFT affiliate.

In order to add nearly an hour to the school day for students in September, the Chicago school district is creating nearly 500 new teaching positions in noncore subjects such as art, music, foreign language and physical education. Teachers who were laid off over the past three years will get priority in hiring.

“Movement at the bargaining table came only after nearly 10,000 people marched in downtown Chicago in support of a fair contract and more resources for neighborhood schools,” a union statement read.

The union has been in contract talks since November 2011. Outstanding issues include teacher salaries and how increases are given, job security and recall policies for laid-off teachers, health care costs, a new evaluation system, class size and the district’s refusal to provide adequate wrap-around services for students from low-income families.

In mid-July, the fact-finder’s report — a pivotal step in the process to resolve contract disputes — chastised the school district for not offering teachers sufficient compensation for the longer day.

The Chicago Teachers Union began informational picketing outside schools this summer to call attention to ongoing contract talks. The union’s members voted in June to authorize the leadership to call a strike in the fall if a contract is not reached. The union must give 10 days’ notice if it intends to strike.

Chicago Tribune, July 24, Aug. 20

Chicago Teachers Union blog, Aug. 9

Labor Notes online, July 19, 25

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