Unlike most personal finance bloggers I share my thoughts about other issues including politically charged topics. In the past I have explained how I don’t often agree with union/labor on the smallest of issues and to a lesser extent the teacher’s union; well we have yet another example today.
I do not know a lot about Chicago politics or budgetary concerns but I couldn’t believe what I saw on CNN.Com about their decision to strike if a new contract was not agreed upon. (Update: Strike has been called).
John Giokaris from PolicyMic provides an excellent review of the situation,
(Mayor) Emanuel argued that the city was unfairly “shortchanging” CPS students in instructional time, resulting in fewer future opportunities for them. He proposed extending the elementary school day to 7 hours and 30 minutes.
The CPS, in turn, then demanded a 30% salary raise. Keep in mind that CPS is a system where the average median salary for teachers is $76,450 a year, compared to the $53,976 made by the average private sector employee, where their graduation rate is barely half (55%), and where only 6 out of every 100 children in a system responsible for over 400,000 children will go on to earn a bachelor’s degree by the time they are 26-years-old. A 30% raise would bring the average median salary to around $100,000 for a profession that works 170 days out of the year.
Meanwhile, the CPS system was facing a budget deficit of $665 million in the $5.73 billion 2012-2013 fiscal year. To close it, Emanuel had to raise property taxes to their absolute legal limit, cut costs anywhere possible, and completely drain all its cash reserves. That still left $46 million to give CPS teachers a 2% raise for the longer school day.
Emanuel even scaled back his longer school day proposal from 7 and a half hours to just 7 hours in an effort to negotiate, but CTU boss Karen Lewis wouldn’t budge. So instead, Emanuel decided to hire an additional 477 teachers to fill in the longer school day with programs that are always on the chopping block such as music, art, foreign language, and physical education, which delivered students a longer school day without requiring CPS teachers to work longer hours.
Basically, there is no money left. Yet not only will the CTU not back down from its salary raise demands, but they’re also asking for unprecedented administrative powers that are traditionally reserved for the CPS, including managerial rights, job security guarantees, and a scaling back of teachers evaluations based on standardized test scores.
Shockingly, I do agree with some of the Union’s contentions such as if they are being asked to work more they should be compensated more and standardized tests shouldn’t be the end all in evaluations, however, to then demand control of who is being fired and a 30% raise over 2 years for an additional 2.5 hours a week is ludicrous.
Ask your average Chicago resident if they have received a raise? Do they have job security? Do they like how their boss evaluates their performance? Reading the story makes me ask once again why the hell does a public pension exist for new employees.