|Claypool with top lawyer Mormer, the man from Jenner & Block|
Claypool suddenly exudes a false sense of optimism after forecasting a deficit hovering near $1 billion less than a year ago. This even while Gov. Rauner, in a political death spiral himself, is still holding the state's school budget hostage.
After a year of CPS teachers working without of contract, Claypool still had the audacity to assure everyone that contract negotiations with the CTU were going swell with no need to worry about a teachers strike.
"We are at the negotiating table. I don't see any reason why we should not be able to come to an agreement. Teachers do important work. We want to give them as generous a contract as we can possibly provide given the dollars that are available."Well here's one reason for no agreement. Claypool continues to push for an end to the 7% pension pick up which was negotiated in lieu of a pay increase. With no corresponding pay raise, this would mean a huge cut in pay for thousands of city teachers.
Here's another reason. Claypool just pink-slipped 1,000 teachers and school staffers, a blow not just to them and their families, but to the city's economy as well. That's a thousand paychecks that won't be spent on goods and services in city businesses each week. That's also a thousand school faculty and staffers like that won't be out there in the schools and neighborhoods, working to improve the lives of our children.
CPS has a debt load of nearly $7 billion and its debt service spending is estimated to consume more than 10% of operating budget funds in the 2016 fiscal year, more than any year since at least 2007. That translates into downward pressure on wages, more school closures and larger class sizes.
"It's not good government, it's not sound fiscal policy, " says Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. "It's not as if we are seeing a budget that is moving towards fiscal health. What we're seeing is a budget that's under significant pressure."
The CTU's Stephanie Gadlin responds:
"He seems to ignore the fact that we live in the city and pay taxes, and CTU members have seen their pay frozen and then cut with furloughs, have seen over $1 billion diverted from their pension fund, have seen contractually guaranteed raises canceled and have witnessed conditions in schools worsen throughout layoffs and privatization deals."
"No educator wants to strike for the sake of striking, If they do so, it is because they must protect their students and their profession from technocrats who don't realize these are real lives they are messing with."There are many options available to the CTU, including a strike. They can continue working without a contract as a holding action against the cuts. They can mobilize support from the base through street protests. I think it's Claypool and his boss, Rahm Emanuel, who are the ones on the ropes here.