Labor Relations Board rebuffs CPS’ interference with CTU strike authorization vote
Submitted by arlenegloria on Sun, 06/10/2012 - 00:10
Illinois Education Labor Relations Board rebuffs CPS
Chicago Teachers Union Blog -06/07/2012
Today, the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board (IELRB) rejected an attempt by the Board of Education to interfere with the strike authorization votes currently underway in over 600 public schools.
On Wednesday, June 6, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) filed an unfair labor practice charge (ULP) against the Board of Education (BOE) due to actions by BOE and Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard in attempting to interfere with the strike authorization votes currently underway. The Board committed several unfair labor practices when it first issued a letter on June 4th seeking intervention by the IELRB in the voting process, although there were no pending issues or claims at the IELRB. Secondly, the next day, on June 5th CEO Brizard issued a letter to all CPS teachers which was threatening, coercive, and unlawfully interfered with the Union’s right to seek strike authorization from its members. The CTU seeks the issuance of an Unfair Labor Practice Complaint against the Board. The CTU’s charge asserts, the following:
The right to strike and to participate in a strike authorization vote is a fundamental cornerstone of labor relations and one expressly guaranteed in the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act. Strike authorization voting is an internal Union affair over which the Board has no legal right to interfere or dominate. Without the right to strike, educators are left with little else to bargain for fair contract terms.
Mr. Brizard’s letter warned teachers that “a strike authorization vote is a very serious action with tremendous consequences.” He said that with respect to the bargaining process for example over wage increases, one of the consequences of a strike authorization at this juncture would “likely derail the process, not aid it.”
Mr. Brizard was disingenuous in trying to convince teachers that a strike authorization vote at this time is unlawful. Mr. Brizard repeated those insincerities in a letter sent to CPS students and their parents. Despite Brizard’s statements, Section 13 of the IELRA law allows the CTU to take a strike authorization vote at any time and to ensure members have an opportunity to vote.
In a sign of utter disrespect of the Union and the bargaining process, Mr. Brizard also attempted to offer terms of employment to the teachers that have not been offered in collective bargaining. In particular, Brizard said that “teachers deserve a raise and will receive one that is fair.” To date the CTU has not received a fair salary proposal. The Board has promised a mere 2% raise for the next five years, despite asking teachers to work 20% longer, terms that are inherently and objectively “unfair.” Mr. Brizard’s attempt to offer terms directly to the teachers is an end-run around the bargaining process. The CTU’s ULP charges that Brizard’s statements and promises constitute illegal direct dealing with the members instead of with the CTU.
As the Union stated in its labor board charge, “[t]hrough these actions the Board has sent a clear signal that it intends to negotiate this contract in the trenches rather than at the table, preferring to sling mud rather than exchange proposals.”