Sections:

Article

HUGE FIRST AMENDMENT VICTORY FOR CHICAGO TEACHERS!... United State Judge rules Huberman violated teachers' First Amendment rights... March 12, 2010 order barring union campaigning in the schools is unconstitutional, says U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve in case brought by Deborah Lynch and PACT

The federal court has ruled that Chicago schools Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman and the Chicago Board of Education violated the First Amendment rights of teachers when Huberman issued an order to principals on March 12, 2010 barring opposition caucuses within the Chicago Teachers Union from distributing election materials and holding meetings about the upcoming CTU election in the city's more than 600 public schools.

Deborah Lynch (third from left) stands with supporters and fellow litigants in front of the plaque containing the Bill of Rights in the lobby of the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago following the hearing on March 24, 2010 in the case of "Lynch et al v. Huberman et al." Following two days of hearings, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve issued a temporary restraining order against Ron Huberman and the Chicago Board of Education ordering that Huberman rescind his March 12 order barring union election activities in Chicago's public schools. With Lynch above are (left to right): Taft High School teacher Danny Van Over (a plaintiff in the case), Michael Brunson (a CORE member who testified in the case), Deborah Lynch, Mary Ellen Sanchez, and Maureen Callaghan. Substance photo by George Schmidt.In a ten-page decision, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve today (March 26, 2010) reviewed the facts and the law in the case of "Deborah Lynch et al v. Ron Huberman et al" and held that Huberman's actions violated the First Amendment rights of teachers and other union members.

"For the foregoing reasons," Judge St. Eve wrote at the end of her ten-page decision, "the Court grants Plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction. Defendants [Huberman and the Chicago Board of Education] are prohibited from interfering with (i) Plaintiff's right to organize before and after school meetings in Chicago Public Schools during non-work hours to discuss their cdndidacies for elected union office and (ii) Plaintiff's right to have campaign literature distributed in school facilities, including school mailboxes, before and after school hours."

"This is a huge victory for all CTU members, and for everyone," Deborah Lynch told Substance after hearing about the decision. "The CTU leadership should have joined us in defending the First Amendment rights of union members against what Huberman tried to do."

Deborah Lynch served as President of the Chicago Teachers Union from July 2001 through July 2004, when she returned to teaching at Gage Park High School in Chicago following the victory of Marilyn Stewart in a hotly contested election. Lynch is again running for CTU President on the slate of the Pro Active Chicago Teachers and school employees caucus (PACT). The union election is on May 21, 2010.

"What Ron Huberman and the Board of Education did was wrong," attorney Jose Behar told Substance. "We are happy that the court has stopped them from trampling the First Amendment rights of Chicago teachers and other school workers." Jose Behar, a partner in the law firm of Hughes Socol Piers Resnick Dym Ltd., was one of two attorneys who represented the plaintiffs in the case. The other was Socol Hughes associate Chris Wilmes.

The case was filed by Gage Park High School teacher Deborah Lynch and a group of members of her PACT caucus on Monday, March 22, following months of attempts by Lynch and her attorneys to stop Huberman from barring teacher election activities in the schools. On March 12, 2010, as Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools, Ron Huberman issued the most comprehensive attack on the First Amendment rights of Chicago teachers in more than 40 years. Huberman's March 12 order told principals to bar candidates for union office from the school under penalty of disciplinary action by Huberman against the principals under the CPS Employee Discipline Code. Teachers and other union members who campaigned or tried to distribute literature in the schools were also in danger of facing suspension or even termination for exercising their rights.

The March 12 Huberman memo came during the final weeks of petitioning for candidates in the upcoming CTU election, which is scheduled to be held in all schools on May 21. It had an immediate negative impact on all of the opposition groups planning to challenge incumbent CTU president Marilyn Stewart in the May 21 union election. Only Stewart, who was permitted to hold meetings in the schools as "official union business," was not negatively impacted by the Huberman order to principals.

All caucuses planning to oppose incumbent CTU President Marilyn Stewart reported that the chilling effect that resulted from the Huberman memo resulted in it becoming more difficult for them to get their nominating petitions signed. Due to the complex rules governing the CTU's elections, even the petitioning portion of the election is difficult (all candidates are required to have at least five percent of all eligible voters signing their nominating petitions).

Ted Dallas, who was forced out of the union's vice presidency by Marilyn Stewart after he reportedly opposed Stewart's 2007 contact agreement, told Substance that members of the Caucus for a Strong Democratic Union had been ordered to leave two schools during the final days of their petition drive, in both cases because principals said the March 12 Huberman order required it.

Ted Hajiharis, who is running for CTU President on the slate of the School Employee Alliance caucus, told Substance that he had been ordered out of schools during the final days of the petition signing, and that he was even ordered to leave the parking lot of Lane Technical High School because of the March 12 Huberman order.

A number of members of CORE (the Caucus of Rank and File Educators) reported to Substance that they had been restricted in their petitioning because of the March 12 Huberman memo. CORE candidate Michael Brunson testified on behalf of the PACT lawsuit on March 24.

Despite the barriers, at least four of the five opposition caucuses turned in their nominating petitions on March 23 by the 5:00 p.m. deadline. CTU officials refuse to return Substance phone calls asking how many slates of candidates have turned in petitions.

At the same time, CTU President Marilyn Stewart was busily holding "official union meetings" in the schools on a daily basis. Her official union business was not covered by the March 12 Huberman memo.

Substance has confirmed that there are at least five slates in the race:

Deborah Lynch's PACT caucus.

CORE, the Caucus Of Rank and file Educators, whose candidate for president in Karen Lewis.

CSDU, the Caucus for a Strong Democratic Union, whose presidential candidate is union treasurer Linda Porter.

The School Employee Alliance (SEA) caucus, which is running Ted Hajiharis for union president.

Representatives of CTU President Marilyn Stewart have told Substance that Stewart's United Progressive Caucus (UPC) has also submitted its nominating petitions. UPC has refused to provide Substance with a contact person to cover the election campaign.

Candidates will not become official until the April 7 meeting of the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates, when Financial Secretary Mark Ochoa reports on the vetting of all petitions and candidates. Ochoa is running for CTU vice president on Stewart's UPC ticket.

Teachers and others from the various caucuses had been discussing how difficult the Huberman order had made it during the final days of the petitioning.

BOARD REFUSES TO COMMENT

Following the court decision, Substance requested comment from Ron Huberman and Board President Mary Richardson Lowry.

Substance was told to leave a message for Huberman through Monique Bond, the Board's chief of communications. At press time the following day, Bond had not responded to the Substance request for comment. Huberman has refused to answer any press questions that come from Substance reporters for more than one year.

Substance left a detailed message for Mary Richardson Lowry with her secretary on March 26.

HISTORY OF THE LITIGATION

By the weekend of March 20, Deborah Lynch had gotten together her group of plaintiffs and the attorneys drafted the motion, which was filed before the court on Monday, March 22, 2010.



Comments:

March 27, 2010 at 8:15 AM

By: Judy Nergaard

retired teacher

You go girl!! Thank you Debbie Lynch!

March 27, 2010 at 2:16 PM

By: MCasey

WOW

Glad to have someone who knows how to get the job done!

March 27, 2010 at 11:02 PM

By: Howard Gans

FANTASTIC

Great victory Debbie!

March 28, 2010 at 12:14 AM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

Stop those foes of democracy

Good work, John. Great articles, George and John. Congratulations, Debbie. You really did good.

March 28, 2010 at 4:44 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Give credit to democracy's defenders, too...

These threads are getting more and more interesting, but to Terry Daniels's thoughts about democracy I would only add:

...and give credit to those who defend democracy effectively...

As I've noted elsewhere, the silence of corporate Chicago's media on PACT's breathtaking victory in court Friday says all we need to know about how corporate "news" is really spin.

And all we should have to say to warn both friends and others not to kiss up to the corporate media in the vain hope of getting a couple of seconds of attention. When I read the Saturday newspapers (Sun-Times and Tribune) and saw that neither had the PACT TRO story, I was surprised.

When, later, I spoke with one of Ron Huberman's staff who didn't know about the TRO and Judge St. Eve's decision, I just said, "Read it in full at SubstanceNews..." The person I was speaking with, whose office is in Huberman's space, was truly surprised that he hadn't read such a big story in the Tribune and Sun-Times yesterday morning.

March 28, 2010 at 5:05 AM

By: kugler

Freedom is Realtive

When your a lap dog waiting for crumbs, you're always free to beg some more.

March 28, 2010 at 9:52 AM

By: June Jones

Don't Stop

Thank you for taking the fight on and finishing it. People in power will continue to strip teachers of their constitutional rights. We need strong and determined voices to speak and confront such acts.

March 29, 2010 at 1:04 PM

By: kugler

Corporate Media Distortions

to show how corporate media is not only not following the news but they are distorting the news:

A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order against Chicago Public Schools. At issue is whether Chicago Teachers Union members can campaign for union positions on school grounds. The district banned the practice, but the union argues the ban is unfair.

A judge has blocked that rule for now, and has set an April date for further hearings.

http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=40970

my suggestion is that we call NPR(WBEZ) and have them correct this false story and have them add that it is was the union leadership that colluded with cps to discriminate against its own union members.

Chicago Public Radio - WBEZ 91.5 FM

848 East Grand Ave

Navy Pier

Chicago, IL 60611

312-948-4600

Please send general comments or questions to Questions@ChicagoPublicRadio.org.

News

312.948.4650

March 29, 2010 at 5:05 PM

By: kugler

WBEZ corrections

after contacting WBEZ they corrected their story

A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order against Chicago Public Schools. At issue is whether Chicago Teachers Union members can campaign for union positions on school grounds. The district banned the practice, but some teachers who are campaigning for leadership positions in the CTU argue the ban is unfair.

A judge has blocked Huberman's rule for now, and has set an April date for further hearings.

March 29, 2010 at 8:01 PM

By: Danny

More on democracy's defenders

Thanks, John Kugler, for setting the record straight.

George writes: “When I read the Saturday newspapers (Sun-Times and Tribune) and saw that neither had the PACT TRO story, I was surprised.”

Me, too.

PACT brought suit against the Board of Education because it was the right thing to do. Huberman really was abridging our First Amendment rights of free speech and association. He’s also violating our contract and interfering in our internal union politics (despite his claim of neutrality). But it is only the First Amendment violations that are vital enough for a judge to issue a restraining order just four days after we filed the lawsuit.

The Union should have brought this lawsuit. But then again, the many things the Union should’a done over the past six years is the story of the decline of the once-proud Chicago Teachers Union. Going to court is expensive, especially when you think someone else ought to be doing it.

But it became clear that no one else was going to do this. As Maureen says, “While the others talk, PACT acts!” And so we did.

It was a David vs. Goliath event. We had the Constitution on our side. You’d think the only industry explicitly protected by the First Amendment would take notice and report our filing of the case, the arguments and testimony during the hearings, and the ruling which WE WON!

But, no. The Press has ignored us (with the exception of Substance News duly noted).

It can’t be that they’re too lazy. Rosalyn Rossi of the Sun-Times came to our press conference a week ago, took our prepared materials, asked a lot of questions, and wrote a bunch of notes. But not a word in the Sun-Times.

Could it be that they’re firmly and unequivocally on the other side?

March 29, 2010 at 8:59 PM

By: Garth

Keep It Real

Danny,

Yes, they are firmly and unequivocally on the "other side". They are a corporation and represent corporate interests.

Danny, I'm also glad that Debbie/PACT brought the lawsuit forth. To me it is a little disingenous to say "But it became clear no one else was going to do this," and then to put out a last minute request for help. PACT was clearly looking for a political victory, but was also thankful for a little help. I'm glad you were open to accepting it. CORE had been up to it's eyeballs in the recent round of school closings, so it is not quite right to say that "When others talk, PACT acts". Maybe you can say that about CSDU and SEA, but please don't imply it about CORE.

March 30, 2010 at 1:35 AM

By: Jose M.

real?

seems that history gets a little messed depending on who's telling it.CORE has been very active over the last few years, so has PACT, and CTU/UPC hasn't except for infighting.

According to Garth, Core was too involved with closing hearings to do anything about Huberman's memo. According to Lewis, CORE couldn't or wouldn't be able to afford a law suit.

According to Jay, a CORE a victory show the Bd that attacks will be met with a 'full response.' but CORE was too busy with hearings to address the attack on the First Amendment or was it about money?

PACT was at the hearings too and they were able to beat Huberman in court.

I wasn't able to join the union activities and committees when Lynch was Pres. although I was looking forward to it in her second term, which didn't happen and Stewart didn't want us.

Now we have an opportunity, maybe our last, to make the union strong again. For that we need good leaders who can do more than one thing at a time. We also need to stop picking on each other and focus on the goal - to get rid of the UPC bums. Too bad the best of both CORE and PACTdidn't compromise and work together.

March 30, 2010 at 2:18 PM

By: jose M.

CORE-mis-history

Just read the CORE spin on the judge's ruling. Seems they went to the Marilyn strwart school of spin.PACT filed the suit, paid for the suit and won the suit. CORE seems to have lost that in their report. I thought you guys were supposed to be the honest and upright caucus, but your no better than UPC

March 30, 2010 at 2:36 PM

By: Danny

Huberman Retracts!

I'd have bet (wrongly!) that Huberman would have ignored the TRO and continued fighting us in court, but...

He sent a third memo (dated 3-30-2010) in which he retracts the most odious parts of his previous memoranda.

In brief, he says that campaign activities by candidates and slates should now be considered "official union business." That means using faculty mailboxes and bulletin boards are okay, as well as before- or after-school hours meetings.

March 30, 2010 at 3:30 PM

By: kugler

Huberman Memos

danny can you send that memo thanks.

also there was a memo sent the monady before petition were due do you have that one(2/22/2010?)

kuglerjohn@comcast.net

March 30, 2010 at 10:53 PM

By: Pamela C. Touras

Huberman Retracts!

And don't forget lunch periods Danny.

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at substancenews.net. We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

3 + 2 =