RIVER NORTH — As the Chicago Teachers Union prepared for a strike vote this week, it rallied members Tuesday in the form of Twitter tweets that sounded a drumbeat for a walkout.
The union posted tweets Tuesday afternoon charging that, in ongoing contract talks, Chicago Public Schools is pushing for a two-year pay freeze, "givebacks" in health insurance and "concessions in the form of $653 million over three years, in addition to larger class sizes, more [standardized] tests and school closings."
CPS wants concessions in the form of $653 million over three years, in addition to larger class sizes, more stand. tests, and school closings— ChicagoTeachersUnion (@CTULocal1) December 8, 2015
The tweets don't emerge in a vacuum. The union has scheduled a three-day strike vote starting Wednesday, and on Monday posted frequently asked questions about the vote on its website.
The union needs 75 percent approval in the vote to proceed with a strike. It has already advised teachers to start saving for a strike and has estimated that, once it leaps all the legal requirements for a strike, now at the fact-finding stage in ongoing talks, it could call a walkout in March.
The union estimated that the changes in health-care coverage would be worth $51 million to its members, and that the two-year pay freeze and a pause in usual "step increases" for seniority in the pay scale "would cost workers about $500 million over the next three years."
Another set of givebacks come in health insurance, where the school system wants to double premiums and increase co-pays, worth $51 million— ChicagoTeachersUnion (@CTULocal1) December 8, 2015
Average take-home pay would drop 2 percent in the first year, another 2 percent in the second year and 1.5 percent in year 3— ChicagoTeachersUnion (@CTULocal1) December 8, 2015
According to union estimates, take-home pay would drop 2 percent in each of the first two years and another 1.5 percent in the third year.
CPS did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Religious leaders associated with Arise Chicago announced Tuesday that they plan to monitor ballot counting all three days starting at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the union's headquarters in the Merchandise Mart.
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