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FAQ on CPS "Overpayment" Letter to Retirees

06/07/2011

Chicago Teachers Union is intervening to protect the rights of Chicago public school teachers who were allegedly overpaid due to a CPS payroll error.

On May 23, 2011, letters to approximately 281 retired teachers were sent by CPS’s Chief Human Capital Officer Alicia Winkler.  It claimed that they had been overpaid for benefit days since 2007 based on a recent CPS audit. The letter noted that CPS expected to make repayment arrangements via a wage deduction beginning on June 6, 2011.  The letter included a “Voluntary Wage Deduction Authorization” form for a 15% payroll deduction, and also threatened disciplinary action and forced collection if payment is not authorized by employees.

There is a long history of payroll mismanagement issues at CPS.  Our position is that anyone whom the school board believes received a payment in error should be given an honest and accurate accounting concerning the amount owed. The information that the Board should provide you includes any audit trails, documentation of salary computations, and an opportunity to understand and contest the computations.

FAQ on Alleged Payroll Overpayment

Employee Alert: The Board of Education has agreed to reconsider the time-line to pay back the money owed.  Please be sure to get any information that you need to ensure that the amounts you owe are accurate.

In addition, please call the contact number in the letter you received from the Board to set up a payment schedule that fits your needs.

Do we have to sign the Voluntary Wage Deduction Authorization?

Answer: No. The law provides that you can enter into a truly voluntary payment plan, after seeing the numbers and audit, and if the money is due and owed. But, the Board cannot coerce or threaten you to enter into any agreement.

Can CPS deal directly with us or can the CTU assist?

Answer: Our labor agreement does not permit the employer to directly deal with members over wages. We would like CPS to discuss the issues, computations and a solution with us.

Can CPS discipline us for failure to pay an amount demanded by the Board or to agree to a wage deduction.

Answer: No. The CTU’s position is that Ms. Winkler’s letter violates the labor agreement and the law and contains unlawful threats of discipline.

Do we have a right to see how these overpayments were computed, and have an opportunity to contest?

 Answer: Yes. The Board is prohibited from depriving employees of their “property interest,” via the involuntary withholding of wages without an opportunity to a hearing. CPS has no process in place to allow employees to protest the alleged amounts due.

The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA), 820 ILCS

115/9 prohibits involuntary or coerced wage deductions or without providing you with an opportunity for a hearing to dispute the debt that is due and owed. Threats of discipline to secure an alleged debt are not lawful under the IWPCA.

If an employee owes the money, can CPS collect it?

 Answer: Yes, if the money is due and owed, and CPS follows the law and our labor contract.

Can CPS threaten to discipline or discipline our members for failing to repay the alleged debts or if we don’t enter into a voluntary payment plan.

 

Answer: No.

Note: You will not have to file amended taxes this year, but you will have to fill out a "year of repayment" form next year. 

 

Chicago Teachers Union