Think, Know, Prove–Residency

Think, Know, Prove is a regular Saturday feature, where a topic with both mystery and importance is posted for community discussion. The title is a shortened version of the Investigative Mantra: What do we think, what do we know, what can we prove? and everything from wild speculation to resource referencing fact is welcome here.

As promised in the discussion under the Union page, I want to dedicate this week’s TKP to the issue raised by slg–namely, the Residency Requirement.

As I stated there, the Residency Requirement is not contractual (although, interestingly, there is union history with the issue), nor is it required (or precluded) by State law (at least not for us).

I learned some interesting things as I poked around on this. First, the requirement is a Board Rule (3.7(a)), which you can check out for yourself at the above link. If you do, you’ll notice some interesting things: employees hired before July 1, 1977 are exempt and the rule has been revised twice (September 2001 and September 2008). The September 2008 revision moved the date for the certifying of your residency from July to February (since we don’t work in July, I think, which apparently only took about 31 years to be a problem). I can’t tell what the 2001 revision was because the board report from that month is not posted on the web site. Not sure why. In any case, the revision involved renumbering and something else, which was likely minor.

The rule has some interesting history, which you can read about (for free) if you’re on campus and do a quick search in the Tribune archives from 1976 and 1977. According to one article, the rule originally passed the Board in July of 1976 (a Bicentennial present!) by a 5 to 1 vote. The lone dissenter said, “An American citizen ought to have the right to live wherever he chooses to live and not as a condition of employment.”

The Union apparently went nuts about it, decrying the costs for employees and the rest; Norm Swenson is quoted in the article saying the rule “violates our rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.”

Clearly, though, the rule was not so much a board initiative as a political one, sent over from City Hall. Earlier that same year, Mayor Daley (Richard J., Richie’s father) ordered a residency requirement for all city employees. The article says “a court decision upheld the order in the cases of police and firemen because they are considered 24-hour-a-day employees.” The board member who introduced the measure claimed that the requirement “would aid in hiring administrators, teachers, and other employees who are highly motivated and deeply committed to an urban college system, and who are more likely to be involved in college and community activities, bringing them in contact with community leaders and residents, and who are more likely to be committed to the futures of the community and City Colleges.” Another article, linked to below, suggests that the rule dates to a City Hall initiative that originated in the 60s in an effort to stem the pervasive “white flight” and shore up the city’s middle class tax base. (There is certainly some support that THIS is the real motivation for the rule, given Mayor Daley’s comments just this week (see below). But I’m getting ahead of myself.)

When it was passed, the rule affected just under 700 employees, including 63 administrators (out of 161), 543 full time faculty (out of 1450), and 64 clerical employees (427). Janitors and security weren’t added until 1980.

(Look at those numbers again. Those are district wide employment numbers. In 1976, there were 9 full time faculty members for every administrator (including district office). According to my math, our college currently has about 5 full time faculty members for each administrator and that is WITHOUT counting anyone from district. Amazing. But I digress.)

The same article mentions that Swenson had plans to make an issue of the new rule in the next contract negotiations in light of a federal judge’s ruling that the board had the right to issue the rule (the judge also ruled that the board had the right to give an administrator $3000 to help cover the expense of moving into the city, even though they were giving faculty nothing–ha!). The Union swung its clout around down in Springfield because eight months later, in August of ’77, the Tribune reports that Republican Governor Jim Thompson signed a bill that prohibited public junior colleges from forcing residency requirements on their current teachers along with another one for regular school teachers. “The bills don’t apply to teachers hired in the future,” the article notes.

Hence the exemption.

From there I couldn’t find a single mention of the City College’s residency requirement, so it must have gone relatively unchallenged after that (there is, you know, a history in the Union of negotiating for current membership at the expense of future membership, but I’ll leave that one, too, for another day). The next bit of news about residency requirements doesn’t turn up until 1980, when the City Council passed an ordinance requiring all Chicago Board of Education employees to live in Chicago. Mayor Jane Byrne refused to sign the ordinance into law on the grounds of her doubts about its constitutionality, but she didn’t veto it either, so it became law.

The Teacher’s Union challenged the ordinance and a weaker Board of Ed rule, but apparently lost on one or both, because in 1996, (as reported in an article written by the Mayor’s current Press Secretary, Jacquelyn Heard), Paul Vallas warned the 4,400 CPS employees who were out of compliance with the rule that he’d be enforcing it. That was just about a year after Mayor Daley (Richard M by then) struck a deal with Governor Edgar and the downstate Republicans to take over the Chicago schools (the board was cut from 15 to 5, the grassroots nomination process was abandoned and the Mayor was given power to name the board members and CEO. Also, they gave him access to money that had formerly been restricted. He then named Paul Vallas as the CEO of the schools and Gery Chico–our recently named, new Board Chair–as the Chair of the School Board).

Six months later, on November 20th, Vallas backed off, offering a reprieve for the 4000 teachers still not complying, and extending the rule to Principals, though that extension would be revoked a few years later.

School teachers apparently tried to do something about the rule (through Springfield legislation) in 2002 and 2007, but to no avail. This year, though, they have found some success. Interestingly, Chicago is one of only two major cities in the country with a residency requirement for teachers. The other is Milwaukee, and they ALSO have legislation in motion to remove the requirement.

As slg noted, a couple of weeks ago, new legislation passed the State Senate that would block residency requirements as conditions of employment for schools. It is my impression, though, that the law would apply to school districts, as in K-12, not community college districts. We are covered in a different area of the Illinois code, and so, I’m pretty sure the law, even if passed, would not affect our rule. The passage, though, is far from guaranteed. Governor Quinn came out the other day saying that he opposed the change, and Mayor Daley got worked up about it at a press conference, too. He is clearly not a fan of any attempt to change the rule, and, so, given that our new Board Chair and most of the Board are Friends of Richard, I’d say it’s exceedingly unlikely–unless I’m wrong about the scope of the bill currently under consideration in the State House or someone decides to propose and pass a similar bill for us–that the rule is going to change because they think it should. You may have wondered why I have included all of the history above? Well, my point is that this rule is a political one and our board is a political animal, and so to gauge the likelihood of our board changing the rules requires at least a licked finger being stuck up in the air to get a sense of which way the political winds are blowing. As in years past, the wind is not a favorable one for changing this rule, I’d say.

The question, at long last, then, is whether WE think it should change. Do we? Do you? I know where Art DiVito stands on it (though I hope he will be moved to pick up his quill and declare his feelings for one and all), but I really have no idea about anyone else. I like living in the city, and I like where I live now, so, to be honest, I don’t think about the rule much except as a kind of abstraction. With respect to the principle of the thing, I am a big fan of autonomy, and so really don’t like the restrictive nature of the rule, especially as real estate prices in the city have skyrocketed, but I also have some sympathy for the idea that we should live as city residents and citizens if we are teaching at City Colleges (and teaching, primarily, City-living students). I don’t like it enough to argue for it, but I don’t dislike it enough to revolt (no doubt, in large part because I’m not negatively affected by its existence, at least not at the moment).

But if there were to be a consensus out there on the issue, one that we could point to and count on, then I think Faculty Council might be able to make something of the issue. We could at least bring it up and talk about it.

So, in regard to the CCC residency requirement, what do you think, what do you know, what can you prove?

UPDATE: Oops. Forgot the poll…

UPDATE 2: A Second Poll, per suggestion in the comments (slightly tweaked)