DARTS endorses CSDU in May 21 CTU election

The largest group of representing displaced and reassigned teachers in Chicago's public schools has publicly announced its support for Linda Porter and the Coalition for a Strong Democratic Union (CSDU) in the Chicago Teachers Union election, which is scheduled to be held on May 21, 2010. The DARTS endorsement indicates a conflict with Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart, who is still taking credit for a recent victory on behalf of displaced teachers, both on the union's website, in the April edition of the Chicago Union Teacher, and on her own caucus website. Stewart and her lieutenants have refused to return Substance phone calls on a variety of issues for the past four years or more.

What follows is from a press release from DARTS leader Antoinette Barnes issued on April 27, 2010:

Dear Teachers:

In 2008, I unexpectedly found myself in the teacher reassignment pool. As time passed I met hundreds of tenured, certified, qualified, and highly qualified teachers with advanced degrees, National Board Certification, MA, MS, and PhDs. These teachers had excellent and superior ratings yet they had been removed from their classrooms and placed in situations where they were filing letters, sitting in the library, and acting as security personnel. While we worked in mundane and rudimentary positions, for which we were overqualified, non-certified, non-tenured, and inexperienced teachers worked in our classrooms.

For many months I waited for the Chicago Teachers Union to take action on our behalf. During this time I found that PSRPs had no Reassignment Pool and went straight to the unemployment line. I phoned the CTU on numerous occasions to see what the Union was doing to help us. A Field Representative told me to write President Marilyn Stewart a letter and send him a copy. When no response was forthcoming I began organizing these reassigned and displaced teachers and we began to meet on a regular basis.

Members of the Coalition for Stronger Democratic Union (CSDU) attended all of our meetings. They listened to us, spoke with our members concerning their issues, offered expert advice, and assisted in filing grievances. Their actions resulted in some Displaced And Reassigned Teachers (DARTS) members returning to their jobs. On January 4, 2009, with the help of CSDU and after many of my colleagues and I were “FIRED”, I filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against CPS for age and race discrimination. CSDU helped us understand that Article #41 of the contract, which had been negotiated by former Vice President Ted Dallas, was violated when displaced teachers had not been given the jobs to which they were entitled. With CSDU help the grievance was written and subsequently forced the CTU to move forward on the issue. The grievance was finally won in arbitration and mandates that CPS pay back pay to those displaced who had not been offered positions and place them in teaching positions. CSDU continues to help DARTS members, as well as others who have been unfairly treated.

We need job protection, experience, leadership, and solidarity. CSDU candidates have demonstrated the knowledge and professionalism that can be respected in articulating the needs of union members. CSDU is what we need to move our Union forward. I believe that the support they have provided to our organization is the kind of support that will be the glue that will hold our union together. We can no longer afford to place inexperienced individuals in the critical positions of negotiating our contract and navigating the arrogance and disrespect perpetrated on us by the Chicago Public School system. A main case in point is everything that has occurred as a result of the Stewart administration: more than 6000 teachers and PSRPs have lost their jobs.

On May 21st, I urge you to elect Linda Porter and the CSDU team as the next leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union. We need the knowledge, respect, and job protection only they can provide.

Respectfully in solidarity,

Antoinette E. Barnes, Displaced And Reassigned Teachers

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