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Education Fri Sep 09 2011

Teachers Allege Board of Education is Bribing and Intimidating Teachers

The Chicago Teachers Union has filed suit before the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board requesting injunctive relief to stop the Board of Education from conducting school-by-school "elections" to lengthen school days.

Specifically, the suit alleges that the Board, which is teachers' employer, is committing unfair labor practices in egregiously violating their contract with the districts 30,000 teachers.

Specifically, working conditions and wages and pay are supposed to be negotiated by the teachers' collectively and their employer. Since both sides are subject to the contract, it would be inappropriate for either side to try to negotiate such a condition on an individual basis.

ctu v cps

The suit alleges four specific violations egregious enough that referral to an arbitrator (a usual first step in such situations) is not appropriate:

First, the Board of Ed has engaged in "unlawful intimidation" and "inducement" to get votes for the longer school day.

Second, the Board of Ed tried to deal directly with teachers over wages and conditions to override the terms of the collective bargaining agreement they signed.

Third, the Board "partially repudiated" their collective bargaining agreement.

Finally, the Board has stonewalled requests by the union and its attorneys for information about the elections.

There are some shocking accusations on the first point, particularly that Principals--the teachers' immediate bosses--insisted that teachers report any communications from their elected representatives at the union. Teachers were told to save voicemails because "downtown" (i.e., central administration of CPS) wanted copies of CTU communications with teachers. This is textbook intimidation of workers by an employer. Almost as textbook as another example, which is that the Board allegedly threatened to close Melody School if teachers didn't vote to extend the school day, which in the private sector is a direct violation of labor law.

In one particularly demeaning example, the complaint alleges that teachers at STEM were offered iPads, a one-time payout of 2% of their salaries--and the Principal promised teachers that if CTU members voted for the longer school day, they would be "the Mayor's pet school."

The "direct dealing" accusation in the suit is particularly distressing, because it is the cornerstone of union busting, and also unethical behavior in general when you have a contract.

Imagine you are a supplier to a retailer with an output contract, but the retailer was constantly coming to your sales staff individually and trying to induce them to sell to them for less and less, playing them one against the other. Your contract--in which your entire firm has a property interest--is essentially worthless. When there is only purchaser for your product, it is particularly unethical. In this case, the Board of Ed is the sole purchaser of teacher labor.

Board of Ed's reply was not available.

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