City Colleges, Union Reach Contract Agreement

Monday, Sep 3, 2012  |  Updated 8:53 PM CDT
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Mayor Celebrates Union, City Colleges Deal

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Mayor Celebrates Union, City Colleges Deal

Mayor Rahm Emanuel: "By getting this type of agreement... everybody's energy, everybody's focus is not on a labor contract but on the mission and the careers of the students." Christian Farr reports.
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The City Colleges of Chicago and the Cook County Teachers Union Local 1600 have reached an agreement 10 months early on a five-year contract beginning in July 2013 covering 1,483 union members, which include City Colleges of Chicago’s full-time faculty, training specialists and professional staff.

City Colleges Chancellor Cheryl Hyman and union President Perry Buckley announced that Local 1600 members approved the agreement Saturday; the City Colleges of Chicago Board of Trustees will vote on the agreement at its September 13 Board meeting, a release form City Colleges said.

The agreement provides for cost-of-living adjustments of 2.5 percent per year for union member, the release said. In the first year, in lieu of a 2.5 percent pay raise, faculty members and training specialists will advance one last “step” – an automatic increase in salary based on seniority – after which the practice of “step” increases will be eliminated permanently. They will receive the 2.5 percent raises for each of the last four years of the contract.

Up to 1 percent of salary per year will be awarded as student success pay, rewarding faculty, training specialists and student-facing professionals for increases in student outcomes using metrics already developed by the state such as student outcomes, transfer rates, completion rates and students’ rate of employment in their field of study. Under the agreement, metrics such as grades will not be used to determine faculty performance to avoid grade inflation, the release noted.

“I commend the leaders of both Local 1600 and the City Colleges of Chicago for this progressive agreement – a solution that helps keep our City Colleges students and teachers in the classroom and allows both to focus on getting our students the education and skills they need to succeed,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “It is an example of what can be accomplished when both sides focus on what is best for our students and fair for our educators.”

“City Colleges of Chicago’s graduation rate is up 3 percent over 2010 and our faculty and student-facing professionals are a big part of this early success of our Reinvention initiative,” Hyman said. “We applaud our union partners for this agreement, with a special thank you to Perry Buckley for his steadfast leadership and commitment to students. We look forward to a continued partnership as we boost Chicagoans’ access to degrees and certificates of economic value.”

Beginning July 2014, Local 1600 members will no longer be able to cash out accrued unused sick days upon retirement. City Colleges of Chicago already had adopted sick-day reforms for non-union employees in 2011 and earlier this year.

The union also agreed to join City Colleges’ non-union employees in the City of Chicago’s Wellness Program, designed to promote healthy behavior among employees, and cut costs for taxpayers. Under other health care-related changes in the contract, union members will see their health care contributions increase from 13 to 16 percent over the life of the contract, and Local 1600 retirees will be covered under Medicare rather than stay on City Colleges-funded health insurance.

“This is a fair and forward-looking contract that recognizes both our members’ contributions and needs, while strengthening our joint efforts to provide ever greater opportunities for our students,” Buckley said.

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