The strikes rage on, though positive vibes are coming from the Chicago Public Schools negotiations, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Classes will not resume tomorrow, but enough progress has been made that a proposal could be voted on by the union tomorrow. If that happens, students might return to classes on Monday, while the final details are hammered out.
Meanwhile, in Lake Forest, where teachers make an average of $106,000 (which makes that law degree seem like an even worse decision), the teachers are striking over pay raises and benefits, reports the Chicago Tribune. They are miffed that their pay was frozen last year in a one-year contract. They want the next few annual raises to make up for the one-year freeze.
After negotiations failed earlier this week, the Lake Forest teachers hit the picket lines on Wednesday. They are expected to return to negotiations this afternoon.
The dual strikes bring to mind an important debate: What can they strike over? Obviously, wages and benefits are the most common reason for a strike. Other reasons are limited by state law.
According to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, the following topics are subject to collective bargaining, and by extension, labor strikes:
- Substituting contract employees to cover duties that are normally covered by union employees;
- Decisions to layoff or reduce in force employees;
- Decisions regarding class size, class staffing and assignment, class schedules, academic calendar, length of the work and school day, length of the work and school year, pilot programs, and decisions involving the use of technology in the classroom.
The law applies to districts that are in major metropolitan areas of 500,000 or more.
A valid question that was asked earlier in the week, and summarily ignored in the name of finishing the negotiations, was whether or not teacher evaluations were an appropriate subject matter for striking. While one legal expert consulted by the Sun-Times pointed out that the evaluations were required by state law, another pointed out that the district’s willingness to have the first year of evaluations not count places the evaluation system in the territory of a pilot program.
It won’t matter much now; the negotiations are nearly over. As for the affluent Lake Forest school district, their wage and benefit strike drags on.
- Consult a Chicago Employment Law Attorney (FindLaw)
- Lake Forest High School teachers on strike over salary and benefits (Daily Herald)
- Strike’s On: Are Replacement Teachers the Next Step? (FindLaw’s Chicago Employment Law Blog)
- CTU Take Labor Battle To the Courts, Strike Still Set for Sep. 10 (FindLaw’s Chicago Employment Law Blog)