“Yes, we fully support a better, smarter school day for our children, but teachers are now being asked to work 29 percent longer for only a 2 percent pay increase,” Union President Karen Lewis said today in a released statement. “To that we say thanks but no thanks.”
"I'm disappointed," Brizard said. "Honestly, I thought it was a great compromise."
Again on Thursday, Lewis called on CPS to sit down with union leaders to negotiate better terms for teachers if the school day and school year is extended. She said teachers already are working uncompensated hours outside the classroom. A longer school day would simply cut into the after school time many teachers use to grade papers, create lesson plans or confer with parents or students, Lewis said.
“For a teacher earning $57,000 a year the increase would mean a mere $3.41 an hour, less than minimum wage,” Lewis said. “Teachers on average already work 21 hours more than they are paid for. There will be little time for us to do any of that.
“Other school districts have found ways to lengthen the school days by good planning, and we welcome doing that as an interim step while we negotiate,” Lewis said.
Lewis also urged union members at three elementary schools where principals are attempting to increase the school day not to sign those contracts.
“If you give away your rights now this will guarantee you have none later,” she said.
“It would have been nice if they would have brought this to us before our House (of Delegates) meeting on Tuesday but they did not,” Lewis said. “Our members are not happy at all. We have declined this offer and we expect that the board will honor our contract.”
Lewis said the union has been receiving emails and calls and visiting with teachers on school visits to gauge the mood of its members.
“We’ve been quite an earful,” Lewis said. “Nobody seems to know what it’s like to work in a school building. And that there’s been no plan. It’s just ‘we want a longer day, we want a longer day.’ We are not going to extend what we’re doing now because we have teachers who literally have absolutely no time to go to the bathroom. That is the way the schedule is now. So we are not going to add to that without a plan in place.”
Lewis called the uproar over longer school days and teacher pay a “political issue” not driven by the new leadership at CPS.
“This has nothing to do with what really happens,” she said. “This is very political.”