How Mariyn Stewart, UPC cheated on November 20 CTU referenda... School-by-school results reveal how Stewart, UPC stole the votes in the all-important CTU referenda November 20

[Editor's note: Technical difficulties mean that Substance is unable to publish the Excel spreadsheets compiled by John Kugler and mentioned in this article. Those who wish to receive copies of the spreadsheets can contact Dr. Kugler directly by e-mail at and he will attach them to a Reply. Substance will be trying to collate as much of the analysis of this event as possible. George N. Schmidt, Editor].

The latest fraud by Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart is now becoming clear for everyone to see. After more than ten days' delay in the release of the school-by-school vote counts from the all-important referenda held by the Chicago Teachers Union in all of the city's public schools on Friday, November 20, the release of the breakdowns at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend shows what many suspected: The faction controlled by Marilyn Stewart and he "United Progressive Caucus" stole the votes and the count instead of conducting a clean vote that day.

Since her May 2007 re-election as President of the Chicago Teachers Union, Marilyn Stewart (above, at podium) has spent more and more time and more and more of the union's money circumventing the union's Constitution, By-Laws, and House of Delegates to centralize power in her own hands. By August 2007, Stewart announced the approval of the proposed five-year contract despite the fact that she refused to count the "No" votes in the House of Delegates. In December 2007, she announced that she had the power as "Chief Executive Officer" of the CTU to order the other union elected officers around. By early 2008, Stewart had begun the expensive purge of CTU Vice President Ted Dallas, ignoring the House of Delegates and doing the entire process of trial, conviction, and appeal through her hand-picked (and secret; no one in the union knows who is on the) Executive Board. By December 11, 2008 (above) Stewart could announce that the CTU supported a vast merit pay plan even thought the union's members and delegates had never been consulted on the plan. Above, Stewart is seen speaking at the December 11 program awarding the first merit pay checks to Chicago teachers at Westcott Elementary School (400 W. 80th St). In her remarks, Stewart praised Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chicago Schools Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan, and (then) U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (seated above beside Duncan) and told the audience that the Chicago Teachers Union endorsed merit pay, despite the fact that Stewart had refused to submit the plan to the House of Delegates or membership. The December 11, 2008, media event above was the last time Spellings appeared in Chicago. One week later, President Barack Obama appointed Duncan U.S. Secretary of Education, partly in the basis of the claim that Duncan had been able to work cooperatively with Stewart. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.And the evidence is now overwhelming as to some of the ways the union's leadership and the "Rules-Elections Committee" (dominated by Stewart appointees) actually did the cheating. Whether the union will hold a new vote, with all union members eligible to vote (retired members were excluded by Stewart on November 20, without explanation) remains to be seen, as Stewart is reported to be digging in her heels, claiming now that the evidence of massive fraud is becoming public that there is no basis for changing the way CTU's 31,000 members vote or the current constitution of the union committee that oversees all elections and referenda.

In a turn of events that are starting to expose the fraudulent and tyrannical, the Chicago Teachers Union has posted the results of the three referendum questions which were voted on in all public schools on November 20, 2009. On November 21, 2009, CTU President Marilyn Stewart posted a "Thank You" to the union's membership on the union's Web site ( claiming that the vote was in favor of propositions that (a) supposedly eliminated the union's fifth officer (the treasurer),(b) eliminated the publication of CTU election results in the pages of the Chicago Union Teacher, and (c) gave Stewart (through her control of the secret CTU 'Executive Board' expanded powers to purge the union's members and officers.

After an increasing clamor across the city, the official school by school vote tallies were posted on on November 30, 2009 — ten days after the voting took place and nine days after Stewart declared victory for her side.

According to the CTU Web site, the vote count documents were created by by a politically hired staff member Jenny Celander on November 30, 2009 at 3:44:34 PM. Celendar was hired by chief of staff John Ostenburg, who has also hired Ms. Celendar's mother, according to union sources, despite Presidents Stewart’s directive in May of 2008 that there would be a hiring freeze at the union. The files posted at the CTU Website were created as pdf documents, and had to be converted into Excel documents in order to be reviewed easily by CTU members.

Those who wish to consult the official CTU report can go to assets/Referendum%2011-20-09 Elem.pdf

to view the school-by-school referendum results for the elementary schools in PDF. Substance will be publishing the complete totals in an Excel Spreadsheet later on December 1, 2009, and some members have already completed that work (see "LETTER: VanOver notes high schools voted 'No' in overwhelming numbers", December 1, 2009, at Members challenge claims that UPC vote count indicated a Stewart "win."

No sooner had the results been published than the e-mail message boards lit up with complaints. In a quick look at the numbers, union members at Robeson High School noted that their results were left off the list. CORE members and Robeson math teacher Danielle Ciesielski said she was shocked by the posted counts and declares “Robeson's votes aren't even listed. I know we voted!!”

CORE member Kenzo Shibata, delegate at Hancock High School noticed, that there are no results for his school either. Kenzo knowing full well he voted himself and so did many other members in his school is perplexed by the loss of representation and votes submitted to the union to be counted. “We voted, too,” said Kenzo.

Elementary count questioned too

The assumption by some that Stewart was able to "win" based on her ability to bring in the vote from elementary school union members is also being challenged.

Jim Vail, a CORE member and Delegate at Hammond [Elementary] School said in an e-mail: “Can we challenge this? The vote totals are wrong for my school — it should be the opposite — all voted NO on all 3 items, but it shows YES for all 3. I demand a re-count!”

Above, Chicago Union Teacher "Assistant Editor" Jenny Celander taking photographs at the December 11, 2008, media event at Westcott School. Despite the fact that the Chicago Teachers Union has dozens of members with reportorial, journalism, and newspaper training, CTU President Marilyn Stewart gave Celander the job because of patronage relationships within Stewart's narrow circle of supporters at the union's Merchandise Mart offices. Celander never taught in Chicago and is one of several people surrounding Stewart who was never a member of the CTU prior to getting a high paying job at the CTU thanks to Stewart. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. In looking over the school by school results 21 high schools did not have their vote totals posted. On the elementary side, there are 63 schools that did not have their votes counted. On the official CPS website the high school official count is 128 and the elementary school count is 536. Doing a little simple mathematics 16.4 % of high schools did not have a vote count and 11.8 % of elementary schools did not have a vote count. Since the CTU did not publish a list of all the schools where union members were eligible to vote, it is impossible at this point to know how many schools were not allowed to vote.

According to a preliminary analysis, 45 elementary schools voted 100 percent "Yes" for all of the referenda items endorsed by Stewart.

According to the tallies now public, there was only one high school that voted 100 percent "Yes" for the referenda items.

There was no high schools that voted 100 percent against the referenda and there were nine elementary schools that voted 100 percent against all the referenda items. 


December 1, 2009 at 8:00 AM

By: Al Korach

Retired Teacher


December 1, 2009 at 10:22 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Corruption on all CTU committees

In August and September 2004, one month after her election as President of the Chicago Teachers Union, Marilyn Stewart purged everyone who was not a member of her United Progressive Caucus from union committees. I had served as secretary of the Rules Elections Committee from 2002 - 2004, during which time we cleaned up the committee after decades of corruption under successive UPC administrations. One of the things we did was bring in an outside organization (the American Arbitration Association) to run both the 2003 CTU referenda (contract votes) and the 2004 elections (May four-way race; June runoff which resulted in Stewart's victory). At the time, we joked that we had brought the CTU election procedures kicking and screaming from the 19th Century (complete with paper ballots and widespread Tammy Hall style fraud) into the 21st Century.

Marilyn Stewart rolled the clock back into the 19th Century with her frauds, the latest of which is the November 20, 2009, referendum count. This year, I was still purged from the Rules Elections Committee, which does not want members who know there are other ways to run elections. However, this year I got to observe the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF) election -- both the original vote count and the runoff. There are many ways to run a clean election, even in Chicago. But the Stewart administration wants to be able to cheat, so now, once again, the CTU is facing major embarrassment — and possibly major litigation costs — because of something that should have been done right the first time.

December 1, 2009 at 5:32 PM

By: Al Korach


The constant challenges to union election results will be with the CTU forever unless we have the courage and willpower to make changes. The power is with the the CTU House of Delegates. What is needed is an outside agency such as used by the Pension Board. A ballot is mailed to all eligible to vote and returned to be counted by the impartial firm.It is imperative that this be done before the next CTU elections.

December 1, 2009 at 6:10 PM

By: Power Corrupts

Where's the Shame Marilyn?

It is hard to believe that one can still be shocked at the blatancy of Chicago politics.

December 1, 2009 at 6:42 PM

By: Garth Liebhaber

Start Calling the Union

For starters, teachers and staff who voted can start by calling their field reps.

(312) 329-9100

We need to start barraging the union. We also need to push to have democratic representation on the rules and election committee.

The first step would be to have an outside organization run the election, as with the Pension Trustees vote.

While evidence points to a UPC loss, do we know that we could get a fair recount? Or do we call for a re-vote? Or better yet, throw out the whole silly referenda in the first place?

December 1, 2009 at 10:27 PM

By: problem now with UPC

enforce it now

if CTU members do not protest waht Stewart has done here with the vote, she will be ree again to cheat in May. Do soemthing now.

December 8, 2009 at 7:04 AM

By: Chicago Teacher

Million Dollar Marilyn stole our endorsement for Governor too

The HOD must stand up to the corruption of the UPC/CTU. Now Marilyn Stewart voted all 31,000 members of the CTU to endorse Dan Hynes for Gov. over populist and progressive candidate Pat Quinn. How'd she do that. She took all our votes without discussion, debate or a House of Delegates vote.

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