Tuesday, November 29, 2016

New City...New Sale!

I have not blogged recently because so much has changed since this summer. The biggest change being that we are now in another state. No more Chicago living for us.  My husband and I went scouting out places this summer and alas, found ourselves a new home. 

We traded gunshots for cow farts and couldn't be happier!


video


Now that we are settled, it's back to business...at least book business for now.


From now until Christmas it's the
2 for $10 Sale and Shipping is Free!


What do you get for $10.00?  The Moose at the Manger Storybook (which includes a free audiobook download) and The Moose at the Manger Coloring Book!  I will autograph them and ship them anywhere is the USA. Shipping is on me this ChristMOOSE season!


~Signed, sealed, and delivered - all for $10.00~


                                         When Muse the Moose accidently wanders off from her family, she becomes lost in the forest.  She luckily finds a friend in Star Bright, the brightest star in the sky, who leads her on a fantastic journey. When Muse becomes The Moose at the Manger, she realizes her most important journey is yet to come.


If you would like the books personalized, type in the person's name and then click the 'Add to Cart' button to place your order. It's that simple! (No personalization?  Just click the 'Add to Cart' button.)

Add Name for Personalization



Questions or Comments?  Feel free to leave a comment on my blog or email me directly at lisatortsbook@ameritech.net

Stay tuned for the new year and new blogs!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Why this teacher called out the Chicago Teacher's Union...

I was debating if I should print this correspondence here on my blog, but in recent days it seems gossip is flowing and fallacious statements are being shared.  I find the whole thing interesting since I wrote an email to the Chicago Teacher's Union and did not put it on a public forum.  Yet, I might as well have, because I've had people contacting me about my communication with the CTU even though I didn't share the information publicly.  Obviously, I caused quite a stir and people from the Union are talking.  That being said, I figured, those interested should be able to read "the real story".

So, to clear up a couple of points...

I am a CTU member who doesn't agree with much of what the Union's been doing.  April 1st was my tipping point, and I decided to tell the Union just that.  I also was going to separate myself from the Union, but as you will see from the following correspondence, I decided to remain in the Union at this time.

I took out the name of the person who was in contact with me from the Union since the individual person that responded, I am sure, got orders from others within the Union.

I find it interesting and very telling that none of the points that I brought up were ever addressed and that a full-fledged Union member's fee and an Agency Fee is exactly the same.  No wonder the Chicago Teacher's Union doesn't care whether a teacher is a member or not.  They still get their money and they still can use it for whatever they want.


Below is my full and correct correspondence with the Chicago Teacher's Union...


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

DISGUSTING...TO SAY THE LEAST!





I waited a few days to see if and how the mainstream news reported the Chicago Teachers Union big APRIL FOOL's event from Friday before posting this, and needless to say besides showing "peaceful gatherings" and marches and thousands of people blocking traffic for those workers trying to get home on a Friday afternoon, not much else was mentioned.  For all the hoop-la before the event not much was reported afterwards.

As for me, I work with some very dedicated and good teachers, and out of respect for them, I decided not to cross the picket line last Friday. But, for my own self-respect, here are over 20 reasons why I stayed home and DID NOT participate in any of the day's events.


Community Groups

Assata's Daughters 
Grassroots Collaborative
Teachers for Social Justice  
Grassroots Education Movement 
Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization 
Brighton Park Neighborhood Council 
Enlace 
BYP100 
Black Lives Matter Chicago 
ONE Northside 
Parents for Teachers 
St. James Lutheran – Acts of Love 
Village Leadership Academy 
Journey for Justice 
Black Scholars for Black Lives 
Northside Action for Justice 
Logan Square Neighborhood association 
Communities United 
350 Nation 
Bridging While Black 
Love & Protect 
Black on Both Sides 

Did the Union ask for input from its members before aligning themselves with all these groups? OF COURSE NOT!  The Union made unilateral decisions and then expected all of its members to follow along like good sheeple.  I would be embarrassed to be associated with these groups. 

Here are a couple of links that have been circulating from Friday's event to show just how much April 1st was NOT ABOUT THE TEACHER'S CONTRACT OR "THE CHILDREN"...

https://www.facebook.com/738197486317069/videos/773256259477858
Video of Page May from Assata's Daughter spewing racist remarks and hateful remarks against the police. She references her 13 year old students.  How nice that she is teaching them to hate at such a young age.


https://www.facebook.com/ctulocal1  To find this video, click this link and it's the first video on the left side of the CTU Facebook page.  (If someone has the direct link, I'd love to have it to post here.)

At the end of this clip, Karen Lewis the CTU President, tells BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100) that she is writing them a check "'cause they need it".  She was standing there as our Union president.  I wonder if she is planning to write that check from the CTU coffers or from her personal bank account?

All I can say is - 
DISGUSTING...TO SAY THE LEAST!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Why this teacher voted NO - Updated!

Is it a coincidence that the Chicago Teachers Union is choosing April 1st to have a "day of action", or "holiday", or "one day strike" as Karen Lewis is now calling it? I don't think so.  It's April Fool's Day and we are going to be the fools.


Here was the first piece of propaganda that was shared with CTU members...



It's all about the children?!  Really?  What a crock that is.  It's all about a political chess game in Chicago and we are the pawns.

At first, Union members were told we were going to walk if Claypool (CPS) stopped putting in their portion of the Pension Pick Up agreed upon back in 1982.  Then Claypool said CPS would not stop making payments on April 1st but would wait instead until the fact finding portion of negotiations is over.  Now, I don't trust Claypool, and I am sure he has an ulterior motive of his own, but the fact of the matter is that the CTU gave up the "pension pick up benefit" in our last contract.  (The very same contract we went on strike for in 2012.)

It states in Article 36-4.3:
"This pension pick up will not constitute a continuing element of compensation or benefit beyond Fiscal Year 2015 or 2016 should this Agreement be extended for one year."

And, as everyone knows, CPS chose not to extend the contract for one more year.  They probably read this section and started doing a happy dance.  How smart was our Union to bargain away this benefit?  So, since Fiscal Year 2015 ended June 30, 2015, CPS can stop putting in pension pick up costs whenever they want.

So why is this April 1st debacle still being planned?

This directly from the CTU blog - 

Why the April 1 date?
CPS said they were taking away 7 percent of our pay starting with our April 1 paycheck. We anticipated that members would want to take action against that large pay cut and started making plans for an Unfair Labor Practice strike that day, which included getting other unions and groups on board to bolster our strength. CPS then said it would not take the 7 percent pay cut on April 1, but could do it on any other day following the fact finding period.
We acknowledge that it would have been best to have scheduled a meeting immediately after the Board of Ed rescinded the threat of the pick-up, but our House of Delegates emergency meeting was already scheduled for March 23.
So, the Board rescinds an action the Union didn't agree with from the start. The Union knows full well CPS is within their right to stop pension pick up payments.  CPS decides to hold off for now, and the Union still wants to protest?!

Delving deeper, it all becomes more clear.

Look who else is taking part in the April Fool's Fest already:

Labor GroupsUniversity Professors of Illinois local 4100
Northeastern University Illinois Faculty Union 
Chicago State University Faculty Union 
Fight for $15 
United Electrical Workers Western Region 
Alliance of Charter School Teachers and Staff 4343 
SEIU Healthcare Indiana, Illinois and Missouri 
Cook County College Teachers Union local 1600 
Amalgamated Transit Union local 308 
Jobs With Justice 

Community Groups
Grassroots Collaborative
Teachers for Social Justice  
Grassroots Education Movement 
Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization 
Brighton Park Neighborhood Council 
Enlace 
BYP100 
Black Lives Matter Chicago 
ONE Northside 
Parents for Teachers 
St. James Lutheran – Acts of Love 
Village Leadership Academy 
Journey for Justice 
Black Scholars for Black Lives 
Northside Action for Justice 
Logan Square Neighborhood association 
Communities United 
350 Nation 
Bridging While Black 
Love & Protect 
Black on Both Sides 


I looked up the community group Teachers for Social Justice - http://www.teachersforjustice.org/
This quote is from their site -
"April 1 in Chicago will be a day of mass action against austerity politics, racist violence, anti-immigrant and Islamaphobic attacks, the savaging of human needs in Illinois, growing poverty, attempts to smash unions, and economic violence against the vast majority of people in our state. And, it will be a day FOR justice, redistribution of wealth, progressive revenue solutions, full funding of our schools and human needs, and racial and social justice."





If this isn't enough to show how foolish the Union is going to look, we the Union members were asked to vote on this at our schools (to which I emphatically voted NO) and then a full vote will take place on Wednesday, March 23rd by the Union delegates.  Now, with all the hype on the news, the notes that already went home to parents, and all the other plans that are already completed, do you really think our votes matter? I believe the Chicago Machine is well at work here and this "vote" is a done deal. 

Karen Lewis may be the Chicago Teachers Union President, but she certainly isn't representing what is best for the members.  As far as I am concerned, her agenda is her own.



Here are other Questions and Answers from the CTU blog - 

Is it legal to strike April 1?
The Chicago Teachers Union officers’ strike proposal is legal. No judge or legal authority has ruled such a strike illegal. When Chicago Public Schools refused to pay CTU members our lanes and steps, we contend that was an unfair labor practice.
CPS will try to intimidate and divide our members by threatening retaliation and saying it is illegal. Unions can, however, withhold their labor to protest violations of labor law. In 2012 the mayor tried to declare our strike illegal, even though we played by their rules. We fully expect these threats again. CPS cannot replace 27,000 educators. When we are united and build strong alliances, there is little they can do to stop us.
Why are we asking members to strike on April 1?
CTU leadership is asking membership to strike on April 1 to demand revenue for our schools, and to build our momentum by joining with thousands of parents, community members and other labor organizations. This action would need to be approved by the CTU House of Delegates.
If the Union's elected delegates vote on March 23 to strike on April 1, we are asking members to start picketing their schools at 6:30 a.m. and not go to work. This is not a “walk out” or abandonment of children in classrooms. There will be other activities around the city throughout the day, in conjunction with other union workers, to demand the revenue needed to fund our schools and other services.
What should I tell parents?
Tell parents that their children deserve fully-funded schools, and that we, as educators, along with their families and communities, have the power to lead the city in a fight against the mayor and governor’s attacks. Ask them to join us as we stand ready to strike and lose one more day of pay to demand that the city and state put money back into our schools.
Why not strike on furlough days?
The furlough days were announced after we had started making plans for April 1 and are not good days for this action for these reasons: a) March 25 is Good Friday; b) the last two days of school in June are furlough days and don't have the same strength of purpose and universal participation as a strike day; c) other unions started the ball rolling for April 1 before we found out CPS was not giving us a pay cut that day; and d) The revenue solutions we need from the state will emerge in April (the Legislature is not scheduled to be in session in June), and our allies at Illinois universities and social services are facing devastating cuts due to Springfield inaction.
Are the furlough days enough for us to claim that the Board has engaged in bad faith bargaining, giving us legal precedent to legally strike?
Furlough days are not considered bad faith bargaining. CPS unfortunately has the right to call furlough days regardless of our contract.
Are the other labor unions that support the April 1 action striking as well, or are they just endorsing our action and coming to the rally in the evening?
Some of our allies also will not be at work that day. More specific information will be provided as it comes in.
Is the CTU at risk of participating in bad faith bargaining if we decide to strike prior to the conclusion of fact finding? And could this strike de-certify our union if it was deemed illegal?
No. We are still at the bargaining table. There is no law in place that would allow de-certification based on this one day of action.
What happens to those who are on maternity leave on April 1? Do they lose a day of pay?
If the schools are shut down, then CPS will not pay anyone, including those on maternity leave.
What should subs do if called to report to schools on April 1?
Subs should absolutely not go to work that day—they should join the picket lines.
Will there be repercussions if we strike April 1?
CPS will not be able to implement repercussions against all of our members other than what they were already planning to prior to April 1—cut pay, increase class sizes, strip special education services, open charter schools, refuse to find additional revenue, etc. If there are any repercussions, they will likely fall on union leadership, not individual members. If we stand together as one, we are all safe.
Do we have to wait to the end of the cooling off period to do an open-ended strike? Why not start a strike April 1 and keep it going?
There are legal repercussions if we start an open-ended contract strike before the end of the “cooling off” period, which is mandated by state law.
What will happen if students and some staff show up April 1?
If the March 23 House of Delegates meeting approves the April 1 action, we will publicize it to ensure that parents know to join us or to make other arrangements that day. Our goal is to have all staff participate in this action.
If we are out April 1, can CPS cancel our health insurance?
You do not need to be present on the first of every month to activate your insurance. If your employee status is active, you have health insurance.


Sources: 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Not enough money 'til the end of the school year?

First I get a letter today from the Chicago Teacher's Union stating that an April 1st strike cannot be ruled out, and then I see this in the newspaper stating CPS lacks cash to get through the rest of this year. Talk about setting the stage for an epic failure all around!

The highlights of the news article states: 

  • CPS states it will "better manage available funds" which leaves a heck of a lot of questions as to how it's been managed up 'til now!
  • Teachers be careful of what you spend...CPS is now going to make changes as to how employees are reimbursed.  
  • Principals are also asked to "conserve" and only spend money they really, really need. 
  • The district might even reset passwords used to approve purchases to try and cut-down on fraud. (See first bullet-point)
  • All purchases over $5000 would need district approval (the same group that is now going to "better manage available funds").
  • CPS will owe $700 million to the Pension Fund by the end of June BECAUSE FOR YEARS, THEY WEREN'T PAYING THEIR BILLS!

It's all legit, I'm sure. 

To read more about the whole sordid mess, click on the link below...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-cps-spending-cash-crunch-met-20160309-story.html