May 3, 2012
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and UNITE HERE Local 1 today announced that a new five-year labor agreement has been reached after two months of negotiations. CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard hailed the agreement as a win for its members, schools and taxpayers. UNITE HERE represents all associate managers, porters, lunch room attendants and cooks working in CPS.
"This agreement signifies what can be accomplished when two parties come to the table, negotiate in good faith, listen and compromise,” said Brizard. “We are grateful to the UNITE HERE labor team and their 3,200 members for their tireless commitment to this process and to building a foundation for long term collaboration on behalf of our students.”
CEO Brizard, UNITE HERE Local 1 President Henry Tamarin and Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale made the announcement at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, where they took part in a brief tour and met with lunch room staff to thank them for their hard work and dedication on behalf of the District’s students.
“This is a contract that reflects the priorities of both CPS and UNITE HERE. Members are treated fairly and with respect,” Brizard added. “A fiscally responsible contract has been negotiated in good faith on behalf of Chicago’s taxpayers. And, our students and school communities can have peace of mind knowing that school kitchens will open at the start of each of the next five school years.”
Negotiations between CPS and UNITE HERE began in February and culminated in April. Contract highlights include:
- Short Term Disability and Maternity Leave: UNITE HERE Local 1 members will move away from an antiquated sick day policy that ultimately penalizes employees who become sick or pregnant. CPS will provide members with access to a fair benefits system by offering Short Term Disability, which includes, for the first time ever, maternity leave coverage (80% of UNITE HERE members are female).
- Good Food Committee: Formation of the UNITE HERE Local 1-CPS “Good Food Committee” that will meet monthly to identify best practices that promote healthy, fresh, sustainable and environmentally responsible food and will seek to develop mutually agreeable solutions to potential impacts on employees.
- Professional Development: CPS will offer employees free courses that allow them to earn a Sanitation Certificate, required by the City and State, for Associate Managers and cooks.
- Wellness Plan for Members: UNITE HERE Local I is partnering with CPS on a wellness plan that will help motivate members to focus on their health and adopt better and healthier life choices. This is the same plan recently adopted by CPS Central Office employees.
- Freeze on Warming Kitchens: CPS has agreed to cease converting any current Cooking Kitchens or Receiving Kitchens to Warming Kitchens for the next five years.
- Employee Pay Increase: All employees will receive a 2% pay increase in each of the first two years of the five-year contract.
Chicago Public Schools serves 405,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.