Lynch, PACT, and the facts are ignored as Stewart reports her ineptitude with Huberman... Marilyn Stewart continues to distort the history of the fight against Ron Huberman's banning of political meetings

Marilyn Stewart, President of the Chicago Teachers Union, sent an email message to CTU members on Sunday, April 4, 2010. In the message she admits her ineffectiveness in dealing with Ron Huberman, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, in the face of Huberman's attempt to deprive union members of their First Amendment rights. Huberman issued a directive to all employees on March 12, 2010 depriving them of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of free speech and assembly in regards to union elections and campaigns. In the memo, reported earlier in Substance, Huberman told principals to invoke the Board's Employee Discipline Code against union members who held "unauthorized" meetings in the schools.

As three of the plaintiffs in the now-famous case entitled 'Lynch vs. Huberman' stood in front of the plaque containing the Bill of Rights on March 24, 2010, most of the testimony before U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve had been completed. Following the testimony on March 25, Judge St. Eve promised that her decision would be issued on March 26. The March 26 decision was a stunning victory for teacher First Amendment rights, the most significant federal decision on behalf of teachers in years. By the week after April Fool's Day, however, those who had opposed the PACT lawsuit (CTU President Marilyn Stewart) were trying to take credit for the victory, along with those who did little to support it (other caucuses within the Chicago Teachers Union). For reasons that were never explained, the corporate media in Chicago blacked out the news of the judge's decision, which could have been headlined "U.S. Judge Rules CPS, Ron Huberman, Violated The First Amendment Rights of Teachers" and featured in a page one story in the Sun-Times or Tribune. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The March 12 Huberman memo, coming less than two weeks before the deadline for filing nominating petitions in the upcoming CTU election, effectively hindered the election work of every caucus within the CTU except Marilyn Stewart's "United Progressive Caucus." While all of the other caucuses were being warned not to circulate petitions, distribute literature, or hold meetings, Stewart was holding meetings in her capacity as president of the union, under the rubric of "official union business." Stewart was the only candidate for CTU president who was able to hold such meetings between March 12, 2010, and March 26, 2010. And the only reason the field was opened up again for Stewart's four opponents (and their caucuses) was that Deborah Lynch's lawsuit won.

Stewart’s April 4 email stated that she sent a message to Huberman on March 17. “In that message, President Stewart stated, ‘The Union has a contractual right to conduct meetings about Union business with its members and we will continue to do so in accordance with the Board's rule and the collective bargaining agreement.’ She pointed out that Mr. Huberman was misinterpreting Board Rule 6-18 in an attempt to deny the Union the right to conduct in-school meetings.” Commenting on this issue on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight on March 23, 2010, she said, “I think he’s (Huberman) gone too far,” the e-mail says Stewart said.

But Stewart's March 17 e-mail to Huberman was not known to the CTU members until after others took action to defend teachers' rights.

But there is much more to the story. If Stewart had indeed taken a stand on behalf of teachers' rights in the face of the March 12, 2010 Huberman memo, it was news to the Chicago Board of Education and its attorneys. In their March 24 reply to the plaintiffs in the case of 'Lynch vs. Huberman,' the Board reproduced a number of e-mails from Stewart and top union staff demanding that Huberman take the action that ultimately got him into trouble in the federal court. In their 57-page response to the plaintiffs' lawsuit, CPS attorneys reproduced more than a dozen e-mails to Board officials over a period of more than two years demanding that the Board restrict the rights of teachers.

That's worth repeating: The Board of Education took the position in federal court that one of the main reasons why Huberman issued the March 12 order was that Marilyn Stewart and the CTU leadership had been asking him to.

Apparently the alleged March 17 note to Huberman — which was not reproduced in April, nor submitted by the Board in court — was the extent of Marilyn Stewart's diligence in protecting CTU members’ rights.

Stewart's April 4 email also proclaims that, “A recent temporary restraining order issued in U.S. Federal Court affirms (her position).” The implication is that Stewart somehow supports or assisted the work that led to the TRO.

The opposite is the truth. Actually, the court decision took no notice of Marilyn Stewart's secret position, and Stewart neither supported the lawsuit that did win, nor acknowledged its existence. Prior to April 4, Stewart had ignored it completely.

Stewart and the current CTU leadership had nothing to do with the court case. Union members pay hefty retainers for attorneys for the CTU and they did nothing.

While Stewart and the CTU were collaborating with management against the rights of teachers (at least if the Board's 57-page response to 'Lynch' can be believed), Former CTU president Deborah Lynch and the PACT caucus were fighting for the members in Federal court.

At great personal expense — and acknowledging the possibility of retribution from CPS — Lynch and her co-plaintiffs in 'Lynch vs. Huberman' retained attorneys and filed their case on March 23, 2010. Because of the emergency nature of First Amendment cases, it was heard immediately. The case was heard on March 24th and March 25th with a decision by Judge Amy St. Eve rendered on March 26th.

Since a number of people are trying to ignore the facts and take credit for the victory, it's worth listing the actual plaintiffs in 'Lynch vs. Huberman'. They are Deborah Lynch, Josephine Perry, Maureen Callaghan, Mary Ellen Sanchez, Kevin Condon, Daniel Van Over, Cindy Heywood, and Allen Bearden. All of them are current employees of the Chicago Board of Education and were taking a significant risk suing their boss, even if that was a risk taken in defending the First Amendment rights of all teachers.

Clearly, Judge St. Eve's March 26 decision was a victory for all teachers, not just for PACT and the named plaintiffs. But it still remains to be seen whether the victory has been completely won. That will only become clear if meetings are held and mailboxes stuffed as the months go forward.

Huberman sent out a ‘modification’ of his original memo as per the court order on April 2, 2010, more than a week after Judge St. Eve's decision.

Stewart, a member of the United Progressive Caucus (UPC), and other organizations have publicized the fact that a TRO was issued to Huberman and the CPS but have failed to report it was issued only because Lynch and PACT had the courage to go court — without the help or protection of the union they pay to represent them. No one from the union was present in court during the two days of testimony.

The fabrication or distortion of history has not been limited to the recent litigation. Stewart’s email also provides a link to a story in the Chicago Reader about the ‘BIG SALARIES” at CPS, something that CTU has known about all along. Substance has had on-going reports on the extravagances of the hierarchy at CPS as well as manipulation of budget data for years. (Full disclosure: This reporters is a member of PACT as well as a member of the staff of Substance and testified as a witness in the case of 'Lynch vs. Huberman.') 


April 7, 2010 at 6:03 PM

By: allen

The Facts

Thanks Ms. Loftus for restating the facts about the TRO. There are some people who will try to "spin" every issue to make themselves look praiseworthy. However, the readers of this blog know that they can not trust the validity of what they read on CTU's web site. PACT's team deserves to be praised for their courage and efforts. The First Amendment rights should not be used as a political football. It was worth fighting for and I am ecstatic that PACT's team won.

April 8, 2010 at 6:10 AM

By: Jay Rehak

Although I am a Supporter of CORE, Give Debbie Credit

Although I am a strong supporter of CORE, Debbie Lynch and the folks who put their names on the court suit deserve our thanks. This injunction should have been filed by our Union leadership, and the fact that it wasn't speaks volumes.

April 8, 2010 at 9:16 AM

By: chuck feeney



April 8, 2010 at 8:39 PM

By: Danny

PACT at McGee's on Friday

Just a reminder to come to the PACT Party tomorrow from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at McGee's Tavern & Grille. McGee's is located at 950 W Webster (near Sheffield). The nearest parking lot is 1-1/2 blocks north on Sheffield). For a $20 donation there will be hot hors d'ouvres, an open bar, and a great time. Come on out so that attendees can meet our great team!

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