Chicago Principals & Administrators Association

CB

Improving Education through Collective Bargaining

Changes Needed in Illinois Law

 

THE BENEFITS

As lawmakers struggle to find ways to improve academic achievement in K-12 public schools, the removal of a single word in the Illinois Education Labor Relations Act could have the most significant positive impact on the education of children in our state.

When school leaders have a voice, children are the biggest winners, school district pass better education policies, women and minorities have more influence on the policies that impact students, and the American middle class is strengthened.

All of the top five K-12 education states--as ranked by U.S. News and World Report--extend collective bargaining rights to school administrators. Seventy percent of Chicago’s school administrators are women, and 62% are either African American or Hispanic. Changing the law would enable them to harness and use their collective expertise and bargaining power to help school districts pass better policies and establish more ideal academic environments for students.

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THE LAW

Illinois statute--in the mold of anti-union legislation--currently uses the very low “supervisor” standard to exclude school administrators from collective bargaining protections. Our proposed changes to Illinois law seek to right that wrong and put Illinois on par with other progressive states like New York, Connecticut, and California by using a higher managerial standard when exempting educators from bargaining rights.

The first sentence of Section 2(b) of the Illinois Education Labor Relations Act currently states:
"Educational employee" or "employee" means any individual, excluding supervisors, managerial, confidential, short term employees, student, and part-time academic employees of community colleges employed full or part-time by an educational employer, but shall not include elected officials and appointees of the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate, firefighters as defined by subsection (g-1) of Section 3 of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, and peace officers employed by a State university.”

PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE LAW

The first sentence of Section 2(b) should be amended to read as follows:
"Educational employee" or "employee" means any individual, excluding (delete “supervisors”) managerial, confidential, short term employees, student, and part-time academic employees of community colleges employed full or part-time by an educational employer, but shall not include elected officials and appointees of the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate, firefighters as defined by subsection (g-1) of Section 3 of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, and peace officers employed by a State university.” A school-level supervisor such as a principal or assistant principal shall be considered an educational employee for the purposes of this act except when that administrator is also the superintendent, deputy superintendent, or equivalent. A mid-level administrator or regional supervisor for an educational employer shall be considered an educational employee unless he or she qualifies as a confidential or managerial employee pursuant to sections 2(n) and 2(o) of this act.

Subsections 2(o) should be amended to read as follows:
"Managerial employee” means any individual who has a significant role in the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements or who formulates, determines, and effectuates management policies with regard to labor relations.

CONCLUSION

The Illinois Education Labor Relations Act protects the rights of educational employees but disqualifies school leaders from those protections. This prevents them from acting on behalf of the children and families they serve. Our legislation will improve education by empowering school leaders to act on behalf of their students and their profession. As the birthplace of the American labor movement, Illinois must lead the way in protecting and expanding access to collective bargaining rights. Together we can improve our schools, protect the middle class, and help turn back the tide of anti-worker laws.