Our Platform

THE PROGRAM OF THE REAL CAUCUS

Respect. Educate. Advocate. Lead.

 

The REAL Caucus believes that our power as a union lies in our collective strength. It is through this collective power that we fight for racial justice, economic justice, disability justice, LGBTQIA+ advocacy, women's rights, immigrants’ rights, and the rights and dignity of all marginalized people. We believe these fights are not separate from our working conditions, our students’ learning conditions, or the needs of our communities.

WORKING CONDITIONS

 

Working conditions are untenable and unsustainable in too many of our buildings. The REAL Caucus will make improving work conditions a top priority.

 

A contract is only as strong as our ability to defend it. It is our priority to reestablish a large and aggressive grievance-handling department. Every call to the grievance department should be returned within 24 hours. We will add a CTU hotline that is staffed by a live person at all times during the workday to handle emergencies and make sure members quickly get in touch with the right staff members to address their needs. 

 

We vow to fight around safety in our buildings, whether related to COVID protocols, school cleanliness, or building disrepair. All students and staff deserve clean, safe, healthy schools. We will increase the fight against privatization of janitorial and building services in our schools.

 

We will tackle bully administrators and toxic work environments head on. No members will ever be left to fend for themselves against threats, intimidation, or harassment. We will put in place concrete steps to defend members, track bully administrators, and publicly call out toxic school leadership.

 

Delegates and PPCs are our first line of defense to address workplace issues, but that work doesn’t get done if they don’t exist. The REAL Caucus will prioritize ensuring every school has a delegate and a functioning PPC. In addition, our leadership and staff will personally visit every school.

 

We will demand fully-staffed schools from day one of the school year including special education positions, case managers, nurses, and clinicians.

 

We will improve the working conditions for CTU office staff. When the CTU staff is supported and respected there will be better outcomes and service to members. 

 

BARGAINING

 

Having been out of the classroom for over a decade, the current CTU leadership has lost touch with the difficulties that educators face in our schools. We need a new leadership composed of working educators who have strong ties to our classrooms, schools, and communities. 

 

All Bargaining, including Strategic Bargaining outside of contract fights, will include a minimum of two current Rank & File members knowledgeable on that subject. Union leadership will never bargain without rank & file present. 

 

We will increase transparency around the Big Bargaining Team and how it is selected. Open Bargaining (when any member can observe a CTU/CPS bargaining session) is a priority. We will provide in-person or live-streamed bargaining sessions. We will also host a set number of Public Bargaining Sessions, which are opportunities for our community stakeholders and the broader public to observe live bargaining sessions.

 

The REAL Caucus believes work actions are a necessary tool in our fight for better schools. During a work action, we pledge an open and transparent process that gives all members ample opportunity to process and debate the offer on the table.

 

When preparing to conclude work actions, we will have a deliberate process to transparently “land the plane” which gives members sufficient time to process and debate proposed contract changes. We vow to collaborate with the other unions represented in our CPS worksites (SEIU 73, SEIU Local 1, Operating Engineers, AFSCME, etc.) to build the greatest possible power in all of our actions. 

  

We will fight to advocate for our entire membership including our Clerks, Techcos, TAs, ASL Interpreters, PreK teachers, Cluster teachers, Clinicians, Special education teachers, Art teachers, Music teachers, World Language teachers, PE teachers, Substitutes, and any other groups of members who have felt marginalized. No members will be left behind. 

 

We will explore the creation of a standing hardship fund to increase our member effectiveness and solidarity during any future work actions.

 

Our goals for the next contract include but are not limited to

  • 30 minute morning prep for elementary

  • Aggressively renegotiate the school calendar, the school day length and structure

  • Stronger class size limits

  • End Student Based Budgeting (SBB) and School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP)

  • Fight for a less punitive and subjective evaluation process

  • Improved working conditions for clinicians 

  • Protections for clerks and all PSRPs 

  • Health insurance for Day to Day Substitute teachers

  • Accurate pay for substitutes (egs., increased pay for covering OT positions)

  • Reduce loopholes in contract language – “When possible” is unacceptable!!”

  • Improved working conditions for clinicians 

  • More enforceable language to reduce excessive testing

  • Streamline and enhance the pay scale to reward veteran teachers’ years of service

  • Consistent Paychecks (Choice of 20 or 26 checks)

  • End use of Kronos (or move to “one swipe” system)

  • More workload protections

  • Strong enforceable language for SPED 

  • Support for sports-Including Special Olympics and improved pay for elementary SCORE sports programs (pay for all extracurriculars)

  • Fight for a less punitive and subjective evaluation process

  • Paid advisory/division

  • Fighting against the increasing addition of ungraded / non-credit-bearing graduation requirements

  • Curriculum that is relevant and inclusive, and includes teacher input at the school level before mandating

  • This is not an exhaustive list but a living document of our priorities that will grow and change to meet our members' needs.  

 

TRANSPARENCY and UNION DEMOCRACY

 

The members rule this union. Our officers work for the members, not the other way around. Our members deserve total transparency about CTU officers’ and staff salaries, as well as all major expenditures including but not limited to dues money for electoral campaigns, PAC money, and CTU Foundation funds.  

 

Under REAL leadership, annual raises for officers will never exceed the percentage of raises that are bargained in the contract for the members. No officer will ever take home two salaries, such as an additional one from the Illinois Federation of Teachers or the CTU Foundation.

 

Our REAL Union leadership will have term limits in REAL Caucus’ bylaws that will require turnover of half the leadership each term, and we will work to incorporate these changes within the CTU bylaws and Constitution.

 

Any member who expresses dissent will never face insults, bullying, or fear of retribution. This union belongs to *all* of its members. The House of Delegates will hire an impartial professional parliamentarian to prevent officers from abusing their authority.

 

We will create live streams accessible to members of all meetings including House of Delegates, Executive Board, and important Bargaining sessions.

 

All meetings including House of Delegates and Executive Board will be hybrid to allow access for disabled members or members with childcare or other needs.

 

Union Leadership will not be the leaders of our caucus. The REAL Caucus will be led by rank and file members.

 

MEMBER AND COMMUNITY ACTIVISM

 

The power of our union does not lie solely in having smart negotiators that manipulate CPS. The power of our union lies in an educated, active, and unified rank-and-file.  

 

Rank & File led action will be encouraged and supported, such as when membership fought to defend our Cluster & PreK educators forced into unsafe buildings in January of 2021. All members, especially those without power in numbers, must be protected. “An injury to one and an injury to all.”

 

We vow to prioritize student voice, creating student-led forums and committees to lift up the needs of our youth. We will also partner with parents, community members, advocates, and all who join us in the fight for better schools.

 

POLITICS

 

Education is political. Electoral politics is a necessary reality. However, it must not be our primary focus. We have the people, they have the money. We are the strongest when we engage our members.  .

 

The REAL Caucus will author, track and support state and national bills that improve our teaching and learning conditions. We will continue to fight for a fair tax policy in Illinois in order to equitably fund our schools and shore up our pension system. We will work to educate members on their benefits and to protect and support the growth of our pension and supplemental retirement benefits. We promise to protect our pensions and fight against the Tier 2 pension system. The REAL caucus commits to improving communication between CTU and CTPF.

 

 Karen Lewis put it best when she said: 

“It all comes down to how you teach people to fight with the tools they have. We have been fighting with the bosses’ tools…That’s one tool.  But it’s not the only tool. Our best tool is our ability to put people in the street. The tool that we have is a mass movement.  We have the pressure of mass mobilization and organizing.”

 

FIGHT FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION

 

We will defend public education from the attacks from privatization and corporate education reform. We pledge to fight punitive evaluations tied to test scores, excessive high-stakes standardized testing, the unfair SQRP school ratings systems, Student-Based Budgeting, and more. We will advocate to increase educator diversity and protect members with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ members, BIPOC and other marginalized groups. We want teaching to be an attractive profession for new educators. Educator burnout is a real issue. We want educators to feel respected and supported so they remain in the profession. Our students and families deserve a stable, diverse workforce.