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Teachers Union: CPS Demanding "Whopping" 7 Percent Pay Cut

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Chicago Teachers Union lashed out at the Emanuel administration Tuesday, accusing the mayor of "lying in wait" to raise property taxes, after demanding teachers and other union employees take a 7 percent pay cut next year.

Saying they face a $1.1 billion budget deficit next school year, the Chicago Public Schools have refused to offer a one-year extension of the union's existing contract, which would grant a 3 percent pay raise to teachers, paraprofessionals, and clinicians.

In a news release sent out Tuesday, the union said the district is demanding "a whopping 7 percent pay reduction and sporadic increases in health insurance premiums."

"The CTU is insulted by," the administration's demand, the release stated.

The union went on to accuse the Emanuel administration of intentionally creating a fiscal crisis, to justify cuts to the system.

CTU President Karen Lewis accused the district of being "broke on purpose" and said Emanuel is "lying in wait" to raise property taxes.

"Once again, the Board has created a fiscal crisis in order to justify its continued attack on our classrooms and communities. CPS is broke on purpose," Lewis said. "The mayor is proposing a reduction in teaching staff which will result in larger class sizes and the loss of teaching positions."

Attached to the union's press release was an image of the old CPS logo, altered to include the words "Broke On Purpose," and an image of blood dripping from the logo.

CPS Blood Logo
(Source: Chicago Teachers Union)

CBS 2's Brad Edwards talked with some worried parents.

"I'm concerned that they will strike and my kids missing school," said parent Robert Thornton.

"If we don't have good teachers … we don't have anything … thank you," said CPS grandmother Patricia Guilford.

The teachers say they want a three percent raise.

"You're gonna have a brain drain," said CPS teacher Michael Bruesch. "No one is going to want to go into teaching."

Bruesch is a science teacher at South Loop Elementary. He was once laid off and went to a charter school, but is now back. now back … and thinks.

"Who hurts? Not Rahm," Bruesch said. "Who hurts? The kids…the kids, the parents, the teachers…that's whose getting hurt."

"If we don't have good teachers … we don't have anything … thank you," said CPS grandmother Patricia Guilford.

Chicago Public Schools spokesman Bill McCaffery issued a response saying, "The District's top priority is to ensure our students and teachers have the resources they need to succeed in the classroom. The financial crises facing CPS is real – we face a budget deficit that exceeds $1.1 billion, while Illinois is second to last in education funding, and Chicago teachers and taxpayers are being shortchanged because of a broken pension system that forces Chicago residents to pay twice for teacher pensions. In the coming weeks, we hope to work with CTU in Springfield on the pressing issues facing CPS. Our students and Chicago taxpayers should not have to continue carrying the burden of these financial inequities."

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