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And they're off! Six caucuses pick up nominating materials for Chicago Teachers Union election

The promise that the Chicago Teachers Union election to be held on May 21, 2010, will be the most complex in union history moved one step closer to reality on February 19, 2010. By the time the CTU closed its Merchandise Mart offices at the end of the business day on February 19, six political parties within the union (called "caucuses" in unions, for reasons known only to historians) had picked up nominating petitions and signed for them. The result is that it's now official that there may be six candidates for President of the CTU once the petitions are vetted and the lengthy process of voting begins.

Gage Park High School teacher Deborah Lynch (above right) waits to speak against the proposed "turnaround" of Deneen Elementary School at the February 8, 2010, hearing at CPS headquarters. Lynch will once again head the slate of the PACT caucus against CTU President Marilyn Stewart in the May 21, 2010 Chicago Teachers Union election. She served as President of the CTU from July 2001 until August 2004, when Stewart took office following a hotly contested election which resulted in the first runoff in CTU history. Lynch was one of two candidates who showed up (not everyone got to testify because time ran out) at all of the hearings. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. According to informed sources at the union, representatives of the caucuses began picking up their nominating petitions almost as soon as the union opened for business in the morning, and the last caucus to pick up their petitions walked out just as the day was ending. By day's end, six groups had picked up petitions, all for the "slate" voting (which indicates that, so far, there are no individual candidates).

Current Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart (above, fifth from left, writing) attended all but one of the 14 Clark Street hearings on this year's Hit List and spoke against the proposals by CPS CEO Ron Huberman. Above, Stewart is part of the standing room only crowd of more than 200 people who showed up on February 3 to oppose the proposed closing of Prescott Elementary School, the only hearing at which most of the people opposing the proposal were not African Americans. Stewart is once again candidate for President of the Chicago Teachers Union on the United Progressive Caucus slate. Her vice presidential candidate, Mark Ochoa (the union's current financial secretary) is seated to Stewart's right in the above photograph. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The caucuses that will be challenging CTU President Marilyn Stewart and her "United Progressive Caucus" (UPC) are (in alphabetical order): the Caucus of Rank-and-file Educators (CORE): the Caucus for a Strong Democratic Union (CSDU); the Independent Caucus; the ProActive Chicago Teachers and school workers caucus (PACT); and the School Employee Alliance (SEA) caucus. All but one of those has already announced its presidential candidate. All have Web sites.

As Substance reported earlier this month, each of the caucuses also has a Web site, and five of the six have already announced their choice for president.

ProActive Chicago Teachers and school workers (PACT) is running former union president Deborah Lynch for President at the head of what they promise will be a complete slate. Their Web site can be found at

http://www.proactivechicagoteachers.com/

PACT and the United Progressive Caucus (UPC) have been around the longest.

The United Progressive Caucus (UPC) is headed by the current union President, Marilyn Stewart, and has slated Stewart as their candidate. UPC can be found at:

http://www.upc4ctu.com/

The Coalition for a Strong Democratic Union (CSDU) is slating CTU Treasurer Linda Porter for President. Their Web site is at

http://www.thecsdu.org/

The Caucus Of Rank and file Educators (CORE) has slated King High School science teacher Karen Lewis for President of the CTU. Their Web site is at

http://www.coreteachers.org/

The Independent Caucus has is running Jensen Elementary teacher Marcia Williams for CTU president. Their Web site is at

http://www.independentcaucus.org/

The "School Employee Alliance" (SEA) caucus has not yet announced its candidate for CTU President. The SEA Web site has been up and running for more than two months at

http://www.seacaucus.net/

In order to get on the ballot, each slate must now get its nominating petitions signed by five percent of the eligible voters for the office being sought. At the top, that means that the nominating petitions for president, vice president, recording secretary, financial secretary, three "area vice presidents" and six "trustees" have to be signed by approximately 1,400 union members. Members can sign nominating petitions for more than one candidates or slate.

Technical difficulties now face all the caucuses. Nominating candidates for offices in the Chicago Teachers Union makes almost all other electoral challenges seem easy. Because the union elects not only its top officers, but all of the members of its executive board and 150 candidates to represent Chicago at the conventions of the American Federation of Teachers, the balloting and nominating processes are very complex. It takes an organization just to get candidates on the ballot, and most caucuses and union activists have found it impossible to run in the CTU as a lone "independent." 



Comments:

February 20, 2010 at 9:15 AM

By: ALBERT KORACH

RETIRED

LET'S SEE IF I HAVE THIS RIGHT. TODAY THERE IS THE U.P.C, C.O.R.E, C.S.D.C, S.E.A, AND THE INDEPENDENT CAUCUS. I FEEL THAT THIS COULD ALL END UP AS C.R.A.P.IT IS UNFORTUNATE THAT THE VARIOUS CAUCUSES COULD NOT COME TOGETHER AND FORM THAT STRONG UNITED FRONT NEEDED TO WIN IN MAY.I'M SURE THAT THE UPC IS COUNTING ON THE 6 CAUCUSES TO START FIGHTING AMONG THEMSELVES AND FORGETTING ABOUT THE GOAL. FROM READING SOME BLOGS I FEEL THAT THIS HAS ALREADY STARTED. I FEEL THAT IF WE ARE FORTUNATE THERE WILL BE A RUNOFF IF ONE DOES NOT GET THE 50% + 1. AS A PAST PRESIDENT OF RULES AND ELECTIONS EVERY DOT, SIGNATURE AND PETITION WILL BE GONE OVER WITH A FINE TOOTH COMB.PLEASE GO OVER AND PHOTOCOPY ALL MATERIALS THAT ARE SENT IN.YOU DO NOT WANT TO REPLACE A PETITION A WEEK BEFORE THE DUE DATE.LITIGATION ONLY HELPS THE LAWYERS.

February 20, 2010 at 9:19 AM

By: Margaret Wilson

Retired teacher/parent

Al, I agree with you 100%. Photocopying the petitions also keeps Marilyn and her crew from substituting a bogus petition for the real one and then throwing it out. I hope all of the caucuses submitted more than the required number of names so that if some names are thrown out, they still have enough.

February 20, 2010 at 9:53 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Al -- What about FUBAR? You forgot PACT and spelled CSDU wrong

Al, most teachers are going to be too busy to keep track of all this alphabet soup, which is why we'll be covering the election as factually as possible. By the way... It's CSDU (not CSDC) and you forgot PACT.

We've heard a rumor about a caucus calling itself CRAP and another thinking of using the name FUBAR, but neither has sent anyone to pick up petitions yet. And we don't know who their candidates are. Nothing on the Web, either. Anyway, as they would have said down at Fort Sam Houston, how about this for a SNAFU?

Our coverage today is only based on the cauci that picked up nominating petitions on the first day of the BIG RACE, February 19, 2010. At the Substance meeting today we're going over who will be covering which caucuses on what basis. As I mentioned earlier, a couple of us will stay out of all these races and spend our energies trying to report on the events unfolding. Will the CTU survive? Heck, we've survived two mayors named Daley, decades of the UPC, Continuous Progress/Mastery Learning, and "Renaissance 2010" (albeit wounded).

Teachers may have to face a lot of CRAP and as many SNAFUS as anyone in the military, but mostly teachers are tough cookies.

February 20, 2010 at 11:54 AM

By: Jay Rehak

Had there been better leadership.

I agree with Al, that it would have been better for us all had there been fewer caucuses, but the large number of new groups is a reflection of the deep dissatisfaction with the way the CTU is run and, more importantly, how it is perceived in Chicago. The damage Marilyn Stewart and the UPC have done to the CTU by their in fighting (the Ted Dallas firing; Linda Porter being isolated while still a CTU leader) cannot be overstressed. While the Board of Education and the Civic Committee worked overtime to undermine CTU strength, our own leaders, through their squabbling, limited the members' ability to respond to thse attacks. Now, we are a Union that is in splinters, and a number of new caucuses are trying to reinvent themselves as somehow different from Marilyn Stewart.

After careful review of all of the caucuses, I joined CORE because they are the only group in the race that has demonstrated a willingness to mount a sustained effort at combatting school closings and continued privitization of our schools. They moved past the internal squabbles of the Union (Ted Dallas being fired by Marilyn Stewart, the subsequent creation by UPC members of the CSDU and SEA) and were the only group that used its energies to confront the issues that face members. CORE worked for the members before they worked for themselves, while the other caucuses seem to have done it the other way around. They've worked for themselves, while trying to assure the members that someday they'll work for the membership.

Other caucuses have chimed in of late, but CORE has led the way.

February 20, 2010 at 1:05 PM

By: Danny

Six is a good number

First, George, I believe Independent caucus presidential candidate Marcia Williams teaches at Jensen, not Jungman, Elementary School. (Verified this morning by her CPS First Class information)

Next, let me address Al Korach’s (and others) misguided frustration about having five opposition caucuses.

Every election where the incumbent is running for re-election is an up-or-down vote on that incumbent. It’s my belief that most union members—regardless of any personal feelings toward Marilyn Stewart—feel the union needs a change in direction.

Thanks to the provision in the CTU Constitution which requires union officers to win a majority of the vote, it does not matter how many opposition caucuses run in the general election. If I’m right that most members want a change, then Marilyn-UPC doesn’t get a majority and must face the strongest opposition party in a runoff. If I’m wrong, and most members are satisfied with the union, then Marilyn-UPC gets a majority and wins—regardless of whether there are two or twenty opposition caucuses.

And let’s not forget: Marilyn-UPC may be so unpopular that they don’t even garner enough votes to be in the top two contenders for a runoff. (With six caucuses, I do believe there will be a runoff election, although my desire is for PACT to win a majority in the general election.)

Five opposition caucuses is good for democracy. I believe turnout will be higher than the last election when there were only two caucuses running. There were members who didn’t care for either of those choices, and so didn’t bother to vote. If each of the six caucuses nominate a full slate of 13 general officers, 28 functional vice-presidents, 150 convention delegates, and 45 alternate convention delegates, then over 1,400 candidates will be on the ballot! That’s better than 5% of the voting membership on the ballot. Every member would have to know at least SOMEONE on the ballot.

It is a pipe dream that all the opposition parties would unite in peace and harmony, settle on one candidate, and form a united caucus to Marilyn-UPC. It isn’t just a clash of egos and personalities among the leaders of the various groups; there are important philosophical differences about the role of the union, what its priorities should be, how broad or narrow its scope should be in light of limited resources, and even concerns about ethical behavior.

It may take more research than most members are willing to devote, but everyone should be able to find a group they feel are “in synch” with their own beliefs and priorities.

So for now, I don’t mind that the opposition is fractured. Let the strongest garner the most votes in the general election.

If there must be a runoff between Marilyn-UPC and an opposition caucus, then we’ll talk about uniting.

February 20, 2010 at 2:39 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Retired teacher/parent

I have a question. Could it happen that the officers are members of different caucuses? For example, could someone vote

President- CORE

Vice President- UPC

Secretary- PACT

and so on?

or do people have to vote a straight ticket?

February 20, 2010 at 2:40 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Retired teacher/parent

I have a question. Could it happen that the officers are members of different caucuses? For example, could someone vote

President- CORE

Vice President- UPC

Secretary- PACT

and so on?

or do people have to vote a straight ticket?

February 20, 2010 at 3:05 PM

By: AL KORACH

RETIRED TEACHER'S CORRECTIONS

THANKS GEORGE FOR THE CORRECTIONS TO MY BLOG. I USUALLY START MY BLOG DOWN IN FLORIDA AT 5:00 AM. IT FINNALY GOT WARM DOWN HERE. WILL BE MORE CAREFUL IN THE FUTURE TO GET THE LETTERS RIGHT. JUST TO MANY LETTERS TO KEEP TRACK OF. THE C.R.A.P. CAUCUS SEEMS TO HAVE A RING TO IT AS WELL AS SNAFU.THE MORE I READ THE MORE I ENJOY MY RETIREMENT. BE BACK IN MAY.TO ALL, JUST KEEP ON BLOGGING AND TRY TO COME OUT OF THE BLOGER'S CLOSET.

February 20, 2010 at 3:47 PM

By: MCasey

Let the Games begin

Hopefully the gathering of signatures will peak the interests of member and they will remember to vote in May.

and yes, Margaret candidates from different caucuses (or is it caucae or cauci?) could win, especially if a caucus doesn't have a full slate. It could be fun to pick someone from column A, and B, and C etc.

Jay, heard that before, but we all know you go with whoever you think will beat the UPC; if Pact wins you'll be at the door wanting in again.

so, there are 6 groups - the 3 UPC groups (Upc, Csdu and Sea), Pact, Core and Indy, which narrows it to 4 since once upc ... and we can't afford any upcer to get back in office.

February 20, 2010 at 5:47 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

Jensen -- and a request

True it is Jensen, Danny. Thanks.

I'm asking all of the cauci and caucae to send us copies of all their nominating petitions and additional information so that we get he current caucus spelling of each name accurately as of the day the petitions are circulated. We'll let our readers know how forthcoming they all are. Transparency and all that they all devoutedly support, as you know.

The caucus Web sites are now available; the links are alive in the article above.

It looks like we'll run the link in each report we do on the campaigns. Some are out of date, and some seem to like posting stuff that seems a bit irrelevant. But what the heck, it's one of the joys of cyberspace.

The one thing all the new caucus Web sites all have in common is that they are all more informative that the main Web site Marilyn Stewart has been in charge of for the past six years: www.ctunet.com.

That's the official cyberspace embarrassment of the Chicago Teacher Union. For a look at how grownups do it, check out the United Federation of Teachers site from New York City. All that, and a newspaper that actually reports news.

We're thinking of starting a poll as to how many decades it will be before the Chicago Teachers Union posts its own back issues of its own official newspaper on its own official Web site. Marilyn Stewart seems to want to keep just about everything TOP SECRET (from whom? for what?). Could it be that by publishing the actual back issues of the actual CTU newspaper she'd actually show the members some of the things that were done, say, when Debbie Lynch was president (2001 - 2004). Or let readers read all those things that Ted Dallas was doing as vice president before his name and record were stuffed down the Memory Hole?

Any betting persons out there? How long will it be before www.ctunet.com has, say, just the back issues of the Chicago Union Teacher since the beginning of the 21st Century? Not a big challenge, you say? Heck, there might even be an available intern to do that work. And once the 21st Century is up — completely — why the sky would be the limit.

We know the CTU has some staff with extra time, even with most of them now deployed to get their remaining two officers re-elected. One of those staff people — or that intern — could spend a day or two scanning and loading back issues of the Chicago Union Teacher on to the Web, yes?

Economic stimulus and all that.

Who's betting on that project now?

Hah!

February 20, 2010 at 7:29 PM

By: Danny

On the CTU web site

George writes: "The one thing all the new caucus Web sites all have in common is that they are all more informative that the main Web site Marilyn Stewart has been in charge of for the past six years: www.ctunet.com."

As an example, you cannot find the CTU Constitution and Bylaws on the official CTU website.

But it's important enough to be on the UPC web site. Go figure.

February 20, 2010 at 10:26 PM

By: kugler

Feb 24

why is there no mention on the calender feb 24 mobilization that was passed by the HOD.

February 21, 2010 at 3:01 PM

By: Veteran CPS English teacher

Clean up those Web sites before it's too late!

Thanks for Substance for publishing the URLs of all the Web sites of the caucuses running for control of the Chicago Teachers Union this year.

Sadly, part of the community service you are performing is going to help the enemies of Chicago teachers.

Have you read some of the stuff that these "teachers" have written? Don't they at least have editors and proofreaders to check their stuff before they put it out on the Internet for all eternity for the whole world to read and ponder over?

Most of the sites are clean and professional. Others are a little out of date or less than professional.

And one would get an "F" in a 9th grade writing class taught by anyone who knows how to write in the English language. "just when you thought things couldn't get worst..." etc.

I know we don't always pick our leaders based on integrity, or even literacy, but c'mon. Even in Chicago...

This is a TEACHERS' union they want to be president of.

The least they could do is check their grammatical novelties against some standard English ideas of the rules.

It would also be interesting if they advertised their meetings, instead of apparently keeping so much secret. Democracy and all that good stuff.

Last (but not least, since I'll be back) why is it that we get to read, the last week of February, about "coming events" from the first weeks of February? We already have that worthless CTU Web site to make us look silly to the whole world. Are those who want to replace Marilyn Stewart following her mumbling, semi-literate, devious and utterly lacking in transparency leadership?

Not all these sites are puerile, of course. But one is one too many!

In this new age of Web media, what goes up on the Web has to be checked a couple of times. At least.

And update every day, not when you feel like it. Don't tell me about a fundraiser "next week" that happened two weeks ago. Please!

Or do they want Chicago to add to its place as the laughingstock of the USA — now that Arne Duncan is providing more and more punch lines for Chicago jokes across the country and people are actually listening to our mayor when he goes off his carefully prepared scripts?

Are we teachers going to aid and abet their nonsense with our own?

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