The union has yet to accept the school district’s salary and benefits offer, but the bargaining team has not been voicing major objections to the mayor’s proposal for teachers, which would provide 16% raises over five years and only minimally increase health care contributions.
When it comes to salary, it has focused on getting more money for veteran teachers and for office clerks and teacher aides, known as PSRPs.
However, the union’s most contentious asks have to do with creating better working environments for teachers and learning conditions for students.
The union sees this as a moment to win battles it has been fighting for years.
Since the current leadership took over the CTU in 2009, it has been pushing a focus on social justice issues, moving far beyond the traditional union bread and butter concerns. The idea of using teacher contracts to push for so-called “common good” issues has taken hold around the country.
In 2012, the union published a manifesto called the Schools Students Deserve that detailed the need for lower class sizes and more staff, such as librarians, social workers and counselors.
In the last two contract fights, the union brought up these issues, but they also had to concentrate on protecting their members whose jobs were being threatened by school closings and the opening of charter schools. The school district also had a budget deficit that made it difficult to argue for more resources.
Social justice issues. Lower class sizes. Better working environments and learning conditions for students. More support staff like social workers and counselors.
Like something happened this past May 1st when thousands descended upon Raleigh, NC.
What teachers and public school advocates in North Carolina called for is not an isolated list of demands. Like Chicago (home of Arne Duncan), what has been fought for and continues to be fought for are issues surrounding the