Cairo Association of Teachers - Newsletter

CAT Tracks for August 22, 2000
While you were away . . .


On May 24th--the last day of school--three teachers at CHS found letters in their school mailboxes stating that they had been transferred to CJHS. Little did we know that this was just the beginning of a series of actions taken by the District which violated fourteen (14) different sections of our Contractual Agreement! Below is a list of the specific violations...they were presented (orally and in writing) to the Board of Education at last Wednesday's regular August meeting:

A. INVOLUNTARY TRANSFERS: This one action by the District violated six (6) sections of the contract! A grievance was filed and arbitration is pending. ALSO--an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge has been filed and a hearing in Springfield is pending.

  • ARTICLE III--SECTION 3.1: In the Step Two response to the grievance that was filed over the involuntary transfers, the District claimed that it could assign any of us to any building to teach anything in their notification of tentative teaching assignment that is sent out by June 15th! The District claimed that it did NOT have to advertise vacancies, did NOT have to allow voluntary transfers, and did NOT have to abide by language regulating involuntary transfers. It took two strikes and hours at the bargaining table to secure those rights/protections and the District--IF its misinterpretation of Section 3.1 were allowed to stand--unilaterally took them all away!

  • ARTICLE III--SECTION 3.3: The District did NOT post the language arts and social studies vacancies at CJHS. Amazingly, the District actually stated in its Step Two grievance response that NO VACANCIES EXISTED AT CJHS!? How can you transfer people to a building with no vacancies? When you figure that one out, you explain it to me!

  • ARTICLE III--SECTION 3.4: The failure to advertise vacancies at CJHS denied bargaining unit members the right to apply for voluntary transfer.
  • ARTICLE III--SECTION 3.8: This article has three paragraphs, and the District managed to violate all three...
  • Paragraph One: No posting of transfer positions
  • Paragraph Two: No written reasons given for involuntary transfers
  • Paragraph Three: Failure to allow veto of involuntary transfer by a teacher with 10 years of experience with District

  • ARTICLE VIII--SECTION 8.6: This section states that the Board can bypass seniority provisions during a reduction in force (RIF) in order to "maintain minority teachers in the District". Superintendent Isom stated that the Board had used this section of the contract in selecting the individuals to be transferred from CHS to CJHS. Excuse me...both of these buildings are part of CSD#1, so where the individuals end up has no bearing on the number of minority teachers "in the District".

B. CANCELLATION OF PRUDENTIAL TERM LIFE INSURANCE. During July, we began hearing rumors that the District had canceled our $20,000 term life insurance coverage through Prudential. Initial correspondence with the District indicated that this was true--that the separate Prudential coverage had been incorporated into our new major medical plan with Blue Cross and Blue Shield. This was news to us!

  • ARTICLE I--SECTION 1.1: This section states that the CAT is the sole bargaining agent for certified personnel. The CAT was NOT notified of any proposed changes in our coverage through Prudential or given the opportunity to bargain same.

  • ARTICLE IV--SECTION 4.21: Specifically provides each employee with $20,000 of term life insurance coverage through Prudential.

  • ARTICLE VI: This article requires that when a grievance is submitted, it must be heard within five (5) work days. This did not happen and so a second grievance had to be filed.

  • ARTICLE X--SECTION 10.1: States that "The terms and conditions (of the Contractual Agreement) may be modified only through the written mutual consent of the parties." AGAIN--No notification or negotiations took place.

The Association filed a grievance on August 7th and a Step Two hearing was held on the morning of August 18th. The official written response is pending, but indications are that this matter will be rectified--that you will still have $20,000 of term life coverage through Prudential in addition to the coverage that you may have through Blue Cross and Blue Shield.


  • ARTICLE II--SECTION 2.23: The $100 "petty cash" reimbursements filed in May were withheld until August 16th. A grievance was filed last week and heard on August 18th. The reason given for late payment was that the District did not have the money--that the District had to borrow $415,000 just to make payroll for July 28th and August 15th.

  • ARTICLE IV--SECTION 4.2: Late paychecks for July 28th and August 15th. As above, a grievance was filed last week and heard on August 18th. The reason given for July 28th was that the paper work for the loan had not been finalized in time. The reason given for August 15th was that the checks did not get signed until 4:30 p.m. on August 14th. (A reason for the late signing was not given.) I was assured that the situation would be rectified.

  • ARTICLE IV--SECTION 4.8: The District tried to require teachers who resigned this year to pay their own insurance premiums for the summer months. WRONG! If you fulfill your teaching contract, you are entitled to salary AND BENEFITS for the year. Therefore, the District must pay your insurance premiums through the summer. This was finally resolved through correspondence and telephone calls.

  • ARTICLE V--SECTION 5.8: Pooling of sick leave. Two teachers who resigned this summer--the same ones who were told they would have to pay their summer insurance premiums--tried to give unused sick leave to another employee. This was not allowed--although it HAS been allowed to other employees. Unfortunately, the Association did not learn of this until after the filing deadline for grievances. REMINDER: Once you become aware of a contract violation, you only have fifteen (15) work days to file a grievance!

So it has been a busy summer for your Association. And we are not alone...the other labor organizations of CSD #1 have been having their own problems. The CAESP ("secretarial union") is contesting District violation of policies regarding promotions. The "custodial" union is at the negotiations table. And the newest union (for teachers' assistants) is still trying to get its RIFed members back. Five were finally hired back on August 16th, but others remain unemployed--even though the District is still advertising for teacher assistant positions!

When the Board and the CAT finally reached agreement in April, 1998, after a full year of negotiations, we were hopeful that three years without bargaining would give both sides ample time for old wounds to heal. Unfortunately, recent actions taken by the administration of CSD #1 seem to indicate a unilateral effort to implement various "take-backs" NOW, in direct violation of their contractual obligations. Your Association will fight any such efforts and is very concerned over the negative atmosphere that is being created for future negotiations. Hopefully, the Board will turn back from its current course of action and abide by existing contractual agreements until they are changed through the proper negotiations process.


As I indicated earlier, the District had to borrow $415,000 towards its state aid payments in order to pay bills and meet payroll for July 28th and August 15th. At last Wednesday's regular meeting of the Board of Education, Superintendent Isom stated that the District would run a deficit for the coming year of approximately $500,000--down $200,000 from last year's $700,000 deficit. So...are we broke?

During RIF bargaining last Spring, the Association team showed the Board team--using THEIR treasurer's reports--that the District had maintained a balance of approximately $1 million during the previous two years. We asked where the money went. The Association did NOT get answers. Instead, negotiations shifted from RIFing 18 teachers to RIFing 1.

Since that time, the District has continued to operate in a manner that does NOT reflect a financial crisis. The District has NOT taken advantage of attrition to reduce payroll, choosing to fill vacancies that could have been eliminated. The District is willing to spend money on lawyers to fight grievances and ULPs brought on by its own obvious violations of contracts, policies, and law.

In other words, the District wastes money, but then expects sympathy--and concessions--for their lack of fiscal responsibility. You will hear much more concerning the financial crisis in CSD #1 as the year progresses. All that I can advise is...ask questions! If we are broke, where did the money go? (And do NOT simply accept the "high-salaries-to-teachers" argument.) If we are broke, then why did we...(You fill in the blank with your observation!)