Diary

Chicago Teachers Union Declares War on Bankrupt School System

The radicals within the Chicago Teachers Union are aware that the Chicago Public School System (CPS) is under enormous financial strain. Things are so bad that CPS is asking the state, itself broke and in its eighth month without a budget agreement, for a $480 million dollar bailout. A bailout that Republican Governor Bruce Rauner isn’t going to agree to without Mayor Rahm Emanuel partnering with Rauner to support his stalled pro-business and taxpayer reform agenda. Such a partnership doesn’t appear to be in the works just yet.

Shouldn’t such trying financial circumstances inspire these noble educators to work toward a reasonable contract with CPS? I mean, its for the kids, right?

Nope.

Instead, the Leninists within the Chicago Teachers Union rejected a good faith contract offer by CPS and decided that any budget cuts triggered by the failure of the union to accommodate the need for cost reductions would be an “act of war.”

One day after the Chicago Teachers Union rejected a contract proposal from Chicago Public Schools, district officials said they would slash school budgets and stop paying the bulk of teachers’ pension contributions — moves CTU’s president quickly blasted as “an act of war.”

CPS officials told reporters of their plans while announcing the district would make a fresh attempt Wednesday to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to keep the school system’s finances afloat.

CPS is so broke that its bonds have been downgraded by the rating agencies and the system is begging/demanding that the State of Illinois bail them out. In the meantime, CPS is looking to borrow heavily just to keep the doors open. And what has the Chicago Teachers Union so angry that they’re willing to strike?

Requiring the teachers to actually pay a portion of the contributions into their own public pension fund.

The pension pickup — where CPS pays 7 percentage points worth of the 9 percent pension contribution required of teachers and many staff members — has been a point of contention for many months.

Under the district’s latest offer, CPS would winnow its share to 3.5 percentage points this year and phase the practice out by summer 2017. Last year, the district ended the pension pickup for its nonunion workers.

Apparently the Chicago Teachers Union has decided that fighting against having to pay an additional 7% toward their own pensions to help the school system become solvent is the hill to die on. Without the savings from the phase-out agreement, the Chicago Public School System has no real choice but to eliminate the pension pick-up unilaterally. The union doesn’t care for that very much.

“Due to their attack, we have no choice but to express our outrage at this latest act of war by rallying against CPS and the bankers who are siphoning off millions from our schools,” Lewis said.

The union said it will file a charge with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board over the district’s move to end the pension pickup.

“The pension pickup has been paid to Chicago educators for more than 30 years since it first entered our contract,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said. “We consider it a legal obligation, and we consider eliminating it unilaterally to be breaking the law — and we will act accordingly if they do that.”

CPS bears some of the blame for ever agreeing to cover the teacher pension contributions in the first place. Good luck trying to trim the bloat from the union beast once it begins to feel entitled to something.

Public employee unions in Illinois have grown fat and happy on the largesse of taxpayers. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is engaged in an epic struggle with the public employee unions and their entrenched allies in the General Assembly over reforming Illinois’ morbidly obese blue state model. It would behoove the unions to remember one thing as the battle for Illinois rages on.

Pigs get fat. Hogs get slaughtered.