Special Union Request and Call for Volunteers

Jesú, our union chapter chair, asked me to post the following, which you also received in email:


Dear Union Sisters and Brothers,


Next week, the Alliance of City College Unions (ACCU) has called for a two-day informational table campaign for City College workers, students, and community members to learn about the Elect the City Colleges School Board Campaign and sign a petition advocating for a new direction in the City Colleges; the petition will go to the mayor.  Tony Johnston, our CCCTU president says, “The information tables are the first in a series of coordinated events by the Alliance of City College Unions (1600, 1708 Clerical, CCCLOC-Adjuncts, AFSCME Adult Educators and SEIU Custodial) to reach out to the City College community about our issues and gain allies.”  I add that it will help us hone our talking points in promoting the Vote of No Confidence and for future actions and inform students and colleagues about the issues at hand.


We have a table reserved Tuesday, 1/26 and Wednesday, 1/27 in the lobby from 9a.m. to 5p.m.  I am planning on sitting on Tuesday before our sanctioned meeting from 11a.m. to 11:30a.m. and after the Union meeting, but still need volunteers, ideally two per shift.  Plus, it would send a stronger message to the opposition, if various people sat at the table.


Right now, I definitely need coverage on Tuesday 1/26: 11:30 to noon, noon to 1:30p.m., and 1:30p.m. to 2p.m.  Wednesday 1/27: 9-9:30a.m., 10a.m.-10:30a.m., 10:30a.m. to 11a.m., 11a.m. to 11:30a.m., 11:30a.m. to noon, 1:30p.m. to 2p.m., 2p.m. to 2:30p.m., and 3p.m. to 5p.m. (in 30 minute increments.)


If you want to volunteer, read the volunteering documents carefully before you sit at the table so the talking points will be clear; I will send those to you via email and talk or meet with you on Monday, if you have questions.


For now, is anybody interested in sitting at the table for 30 minutes or more?


Thank you to the faculty who are already volunteering; your contributions are crucial.  I also want to thank our coalition sister for taking the initiative to schedule the table for a longer period of time.  (Please, feel free to share this message, where appropriate and include my contact information.)


In Solidarity,


María (Jesú) Estrada, Ph.D

H.W.C./District Local 1600, Chapter Chair
H.W.C./District Local 1600, Grievance Committee Member

Think, Know, Prove: Merit Pay–Some Considerations

Think, Know, Prove is an occasional Friday 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.

Our current contract went into effect on July 16, 2013 and includes a little provision in Article VI, Section C, as you might recall, called “Student Success Pay.” This was, shall we say, a controversial aspect of the contract. Our Union leadership at the time made the case that we should like it because, “Hey, free money!” (I’m paraphrasing). And now, one month short of halfway through our contract, I’m not sure that anyone is any closer to understanding this provision than when it was proposed. Two important considerations jump out–one is principle and one is practical. We’ll take the easier of the two first.


The End of the Summer Session (and so much more)

“It is with a heavy heart that I write you this message today” began the email message from our FC4 President, and Child Development faculty member from Daley College, Jennifer Alexander.

Here’s the rest of her message:

In the interest of time, I will only speak briefly to this matter.

Last Thursday, July 16th, the Presidents of the 6 City Colleges that currently offer Child Development classes (all except Wright) and any faculty who happened to check their email (sent at 6 pm the evening before) participated in a very short conference call with district officers.

In this conference call, we were informed that the Child Development programs at all of the colleges will be closed and are “consolidating” at Truman College for the Fall of 2016.

This notion of “consolidation” completely undermines the mission of a COMMUNITY College.

Further, the conference- call delivery of a top-down decision that significantly impacts faculty and students at 6 colleges, with no faculty having ever been included in the decision-making process, is the OPPOSITE of shared governance.

There is so much more to say about this and so many other issues that have arisen this summer: tuition hikes, registration changes….. If I wrote to you everything I want to say, this email would be 10 pages long and not ready until next week. And so I decided to send out this shorter, quick communication just to make sure you knew this is happening and also how it happened.

More to come, soon. Take heart though: we’re taking action.

Perusing a recent Chronicle summary of “How Great Colleges Distinguish Themselves,” four areas were identified as contributing to collegiate greatness: leadership, communication, alignment, and respect.

I’ll just leave that there.

In The News

You may have missed it amid the finals hoo-hah, but Hector Reyes (Physical Science), Rochelle Robinson-Dukes (VP, CCC faculty and professionals union), Dolores Withers (President,  clericals’ union), and Floyd Bednarz (President, adjuncts’ union) wrote a letter that garnered some national news coverage. The comments section of the latter is particularly interesting, I thought. There’s even a cool image on the HWC union website that you can print out and put up somewhere if you’re of a mind to do so.

In other news near and dear to Hector’s heart, AAUP investigators issued a report condemning the President of Northeastern Illinois for retaliation against a professor there (coverage here and here).

Kinzie Street Shennanigans

That’s right. It’s time to get the brooms. And we’re not even talking about the contract (which we haven’t gotten yet).

Setting aside, for the moment, interesting philosophical questions about the nature of ‘shenannigans,‘ it seems that strange things are afoot at the Union office.

First we heard that Perry would be stepping down and there would be an election (no fault, Jesú–that’s a reasonable interpretation of whatever was actually said since that’s how these things usually work), then word comes that he wasn’t going to step down but there would be an election in case he had to, and then there was notice about the candidates and their letters of introduction and that they’d attend our local union meeting, and then last night I received this email, forwarded from a union rep, which I found stunning, both for the content and the names of the signatories:


What to do?

Today, there are two very important events at HWC. In room 103, from 2-4pm there will be the 25th annual Sydney R. Daniels Black History Month Oratorical Festival. This is a speech competition which showcases our students giving presentations on people of African descent. There is music by our students, great speeches, excellent food and a great sense of community. 

The other important event is the union meeting in room 1115, 2-4:30. If you’ve been following the emails on your personal account you know that there are some interesting developments which will be discussed. I’ll be there in spirit and will get the 411 from our righteous leader, Jesu.

I hope you remind your students about the Oratorical Festival and if you go to the Union Meeting, REPRESENT!

And yes, Jesu and I will make sure this overlap doesn’t happen in the future because I know many of you would like to attend both events! I call Feb. 20, 2014!

More Coverage of the Contract Deal

As mentioned by Todd in the comments, you can read the article from Inside Higher Ed HERE (guess we know who Fran Spielman’s source is now, eh?).

And here’s the Tribune’s Editorial Board’s opinion of our new deal:

The opening of the school year, though, is only the No. 3 education story in Chicago this week. Tops is the settlement at City Colleges, with its reasonable balance of compensation that taxpayers can afford and an emphasis on student progress. The other dominant story, of course, is continuing bombast from Chicago Teachers Union officials who threaten that their members may walk out on children next week. …

We hope CTU members take time from any scheduled rallies to ponder what a strike would do to every child who already is losing the excitement of a new school year to a labor spat among adults. We also hope teachers will think seriously about the new City Colleges contract. That pact’s provision for “student success pay” means that when student outcomes improve — as measured by metrics from the Illinois Board of Higher Education — union members will, as a group, receive bonuses. …

The contract that unifies City Colleges faculty members and administrators in putting students first ought to unsettle CTU members. Chicagoans are likely to view that contract as reasonable. As a logical pattern for a contract that teachers in elementary and high schools would be smart to accept.

But that contract isn’t a game-changer only for union members. It ought to remind district officials that their first priority shouldn’t be avoiding a strike. Their first priority should be a contract that year after year puts students — and student performance — ahead of everything else. The last contract didn’t do that. The next one has to.

We congratulate everyone at City Colleges, faculty and administration alike, for achieving that outcome.

Nothing from the Chronicle yet.



Happy Labor Day

Brought to you by Unions.

If you don’t go to the rally today, THIS is worth reading.

When I was in college, I accompanied my mom to Mexico when her mother died.  We spent most of the hurried flight sitting next to each other silently.  My mother is a strong woman who came to Chicago at fourteen and was failed by the educational system.  She has a sixth grade education; she is the most intelligent woman I know.

In Mexico, we buried my grandmother.  We prayed.  Days after, aunts and uncles and cousins continued thinking about my grandmother and began conversing about other people, other things.  My mom and I found out one of my cousins fought with her husband regularly.  He was an alcoholic.  He abused her verbally.  He put her down for working.  She is a teacher.

One evening, in a small home with many bedrooms, I overheard my mom, my aunt, my cousin talking.  Despite my mom’s deep sadness, her boldness had not waivered.  “Defiende tu carrera,” my mother, who still wishes she could have gone to college, quietly–boldly–told my cousin.  “Defend your profession.”

I recite my mother’s advice silently when I must invoke her boldness to speak up or speak out.

Jesú is leading a group (dressed in blue) , for anyone who wants to go together (and can go), leaving from the front of the college at 10:15.

And if you’re looking for something interesting to read about Capitalism, check out this by Stephen Pearlstein.

And this is a nice one about work and all the work (of others) we take for granted.

And if you’re grilling, you should read this.

And if you’re looking for a philosophical perspective about this week’s events, then you might enjoy Michael Walzer’s “Political Action: The Problem of Dirty Hands.”  It’s amazing. Also timely, given that one political convention has just ended and the other is about to begin.

And if you’re my mom, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

The Frame

Well, however it goes from here, I hope you voted.

If you’d like to see how the proposal is being framed for the rest of the world (i.e., what we’re accepting or rejecting according to the local “journalists”), you can read THIS, from the Sun-Times, entitled: “Could City Colleges contract provide framework for a CPS deal?”

Chicago City Colleges teachers would get a ten percent pay raise over five years, phase out step increases for experience and phase in merit pay based on student outcomes, under a new contract that could provide the framework for an agreement with Chicago Public School teachers poised to strike Sept. 10.

Although the current contract has nearly a year to run, City Colleges Chancellor Cheryl Hyman pushed for an early agreement that could have the dual benefit of boosting student outcomes at City Colleges and strengthening Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s hand in difficult negotiations with Chicago teachers.

The rest is is notable (in my eyes) for the total lack of a non-administrative/city hall voice. There’s not even a mention of an attempt to try to contact Perry or Local 1600.  Such blatant shilling for the powers-that-be by someone purportedly providing an objective report on the news would be funny if it weren’t so destructive. “City Hall Reporter” apparently means “reporting what City Hall (or an associated institution) says without questioning any of it.”   Amazing.

And how was our union leadership not on the phone calling Ms. Spielman yesterday? I mean, were they? I’d think they’d have rated a mention if they were…(sigh).

Back to my grading.

h/t to Jen for the pointer (from the comments).

PS: This was edited slightly from the original version to close a parenthetical clause, in the course of which, I added a couple of thoughts that have been rattling around in my head since I posted it.

PPS: Please note that the comments above refer to the version of the article that appeared Saturday morning (online and in print), before it was updated to include information about the Union news release later in the afternoon.


UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: If you have a ballot you will be able to vote on campus tomorrow (Thursday). Bring your ballot to room 1115 between 1 and 3pm to vote. Jesú and Adriana will be sitting with it from 1 to 2pm just outside the room, and then it will move inside room 1115 from 2 to 3 and be available for voting during the meeting. If you do not have a ballot and will not be able to get to the office before Saturday, stop by the box and let them know so that they can track down what happened and what needs to happen. If you have a ballot and don’t want to vote on campus, remember that it must arrive to the union office before noon on Saturday to be counted.

For anyone who couldn’t attend yesterday’s meeting, the most urgent aspect of the conversation revolved around the reduced time frame of the vote, the number of voting members who have not yet received ballots, and various ideas about how to address and (hopefully) resolve those conjoined problems.

Without getting into the details of support and criticism and who said what (per chapter leadership request and what I took to be chapter consensus) the merits, or lack thereof, of some of the major parts of the proposal were also discussed insofar as that was possible without clarification from the negotiating team, and there was brief discussion about Thursday and how to have the most effective meeting with Perry.

Regarding the last point, Hector volunteered to compile a list of questions from membership (if you’d like to send him yours, you can send them to: hr.reyes13@gmail.com), while also encouraging us to come to Thursday’s meeting with our own. Perry will be at our sanctioned union meeting at HWC on Thursday from 2 to 4:30 pm in room 1115.

Perry was at Malcolm X yesterday morning and at Daley, I believe, in the afternoon. I’m not sure where he is going today. I’m also unsure about how those meetings went, though some people heard some things.

After the meeting and in regard to the lede, last night Jesú sent a request to Perry for an extension at the behest of the membership–owing to the ballot questions and holiday weekend, to which Perry responded that “that full members, who have not received their ballots, should go in person to the office. He said they had resolved the problem [regarding in person ballot requests].”

The union office is located on Kinzie, just north of the Merchandise Mart, close to The Shamrock Club, a few doors west of Wells.

People who have received ballots can 1) mail them in (but they must arrive to the union office by 12pm Saturday–not postmarked…arrived!) or 2) drop them off at the union office or 3) bring them to the college on Thursday where voting will be open from 1 to 3 pm somewhere (tba–soon). just outside of or in room 1115.

Anyone who wants to vote, but has not received a ballot and cannot get to the office to do so and can’t figure out another way to make it happen should go to the voting box anyway. Adriana and Jesú will be keeping a list of people who wanted to vote but couldn’t. Doing so may also clarify whether the persons are full members or fair-share (non-signed up members who lack voting rights). Also, we need a couple of volunteers to work the ballot box from 2 to 3pm, as well. Please contact Jesú if you are available.

If there are changes or updates, I invite any of my fellow editors to make changes to this post as necessary and as information develops.

New Contract Proposal Discussion

Maybe you, like me, were surprised to find a letter from Perry in your mailbox about a tentative contract agreement between the Union and District Office (along with a brief description, ballot and envelope for voting). If it hasn’t arrived in your mail yet, it probably will on Monday. In the meantime, the relevant documents are all posted on the HWC Chapter Website.

Jesú and others have reasonably requested that all discussion about the contract be restricted to that website since it has privacy settings, and I completely agree (for now, at least).

Everyone represented by Local 1600, though, should go to the site today and check out the proposal and the ongoing discussion of it there. If you have trouble with the site, here is the info you need:

“To gain access to the site, you need to be a member of the Google group, which requires you to have accepted an invitation to join. You can get your invitation by sending your non-CCC email address to Héctor at hr.reyes13@gmail.com.

If you have contacted us about joining the group but are not receiving the communications please be aware that you need to accept the invitation first. We have about two dozen invitations pending. Please check your spam folder if you have not received the invitation email.”

Perry is expected to attend the Union meeting on Thursday (August 30th) in room 1115 from 2 to 4:30pm. Jesú may also call another meeting for Tuesday to discuss the contract proposal among ourselves.


Instructional Research

Speaking of the union, there are two really good pieces in this month’s American Educator that you should check out:

Putting Students on the Path to Learning makes the case for Fully Guided Instruction (as opposed to Partially Guided Instruction (a.k.a., Discovery or Inquiry learning) particularly for novel information, including this interesting gem:

Researchers found that algebra students learned more by studying worked examples than by solving equivalent problems…For novices studying worked examples seems invariable superior to discovering or constructing a solution to a problem…studying a worked example reduces the burden on working memory (because the solution only has to be comprehended not discovered) and directs attention…toward storing the essential relations between problem-solving moves in long-term memory. Students learn to recognize which moves are required for particular problems, which is the basis for developing knowledge and skill as a problem solver.

The other is “Principles of Instruction: Research Based Strategies that All Teachers Should Know”and it provides an overview of 10 strategies and 17 principles of effective instruction that you probably already know but might, like me, benefit from seeing again.



Union Page Updated And Other Updates

So, I’ve updated the union page here on the Lounge (look above this) to include the link to the new HW Union Web site that Grievance Chair/Faculty Council Rep/Person of Excellence Anthony Escuadro put together. It looks really great, and I think it’s going to be a really great resource going forward, especially over the next two years. (Plus, maybe The Realist will stop all the bellyachin’ about minutes and the rest, to the relief of a few people…)

While you’re there, be sure to find and fill out the Contract Survey that Jesu and Hector and Anthony put together to proactively collect info to bring to the Local. I’d put the link here, but I think they want to keep it among members, so if you don’t know it or can’t find it, grab one of them in the hallway or send one of them an email and I’m sure they’ll get it to you. It would be good if you took a peek at the contract first.

And when you see the local chapter Union leadership, tell them nice job! I know I will.