THE HOME STRETCH: Attorney General denies Marilyn Stewart's claim that Lisa Madigan has endorsed Stewart's reelection and the UPC

Did the Attorney General of the State of Illinois endorse one candidate — the incumbent — in the heated local union election of the largest public urban teacher union in the state? According to the Attorney General's office, the answer is "No." According to Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart, one of five candidates for office in the CTU election, the answer is "Yes."

Despite a mass mailing by CTU President Marilyn Stewart, claiming an endorsement from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in the May 21, 2010 CTU election, the endorsement has not been made, according to a spokesman for the attorney general.

Marilyn Stewart, incumbent president of the Chicago Teachers Union, claimed in a mailing to the union's 27,000 voting members, that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the state's highest ranking legal official, had endorsed Stewart in the hotly contested election campaign. The mailing, which included a photograph of Stewart and the Attorney General, states: "Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State, full dues-paying member of the CTU, and Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General, announce their endorsement of Marilyn Stewart, President, CTU."

The majority of union members will vote in the city's more than 600 public schools tomorrow, May 21, 2010.

The third mailing from Marilyn Stewart's United Progressive Caucus (UPC) arrived at the homes of most union members on May 19, less than two days before the May 21 election. In the UPC's final mailing, Stewart took the unprecedented step of telling the union's members that she had the endorsement of two prominent state officials, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. In a May 18 mailing to union members, Stewart's United Progressive Caucus stated that Stewart's candidacy has been endorsed by two top Illinois officials, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and Secretary of State Jesse White.

The mailing, which arrived at the homes of most union members on Wednesday, May 19, two days before the election, includes a photograph of Stewart with Lisa Madigan and Jesse White under the headline "State and Union Leaders Endorse Marilyn Stewart and the UPC team!"

"The attorney general did not make any endorsement," Mary Morrissey, political director for the Lisa Madigan campaign, told Substance on May 20. "Lisa did attend the April 29 fundraising event, but did not make a contribution to Marilyn Stewart's campaign." The statement by Lisa Madigan's office came after Substance spent several hours trying to get an official comment from the Attorney General herself. The attempt at clarification began with a call to the Springfield office, which was referred to the Chicago office. At the Chicago office, we were told that Robyn Ziegler, who is spokesman for Madigan was unavailable for comment. Later, Ziegler told Substance that such questions should be referred not to Lisa Madigan's governmental office, but to Lisa Madigan's campaign office. At the end of the day on May 20, Madigan's campaign office spoke with Substance and clarified the matter as quoted in this article.

The latest UPC mailing follows a controversial but nearly secret fundraising event for Marilyn Stewart that took place on April 29 at Chicago's Orchestra Hall at 220 S. Michigan Ave.

According to those who were asked to participate in the event, prominent labor and political leaders were asked to attend a cocktail reception to support the re-election of Marilyn Stewart. At least one mailing for the event obtained by Substance was clear that the event was to support Marilyn Stewart's re-election. The invitation stated: "Please join us for a cocktail reception to support the re-election of MARILYN STEWART, President of the Chicago Teachers Union, Co-Chair of the United Progressive Caucus."

Tickets for the event were $150 per individual, with escalating prices:

$250 for "Friend"

$500 for "Supporter"

$1,000 for "Sponsor"

$2,500 for "Host"

and $5,000 for "Chair".

Although Marilyn Stewart's United Progressive Caucus was benefiting from the event, the event itself was never noted or advertised on the UPC website ( or mentioned in any UPC literature being distributed to the union's House of Delegates or in the schools during the month before the event. Instead, the event was handled by a group called "RSR and Associates" at an address at 47 W. Polk St in Chicago. RSR and Associates, whose website says it is still under construction ("full website coming soon..."), describes itself as a "meeting planning and fundraising firm", owned by women.

"We are committed to producing flawless meetings and events and pride ourselves on unparalleled service," the tentative website for RSR associates says now (see

A message left for RSR Associates Chicago was not returned by the end of the work day on May 20. Substance has also asked RSR associates, which produced the April 29 fundraiser for Marilyn Stewart, to inform the public how much money was raised at the Orchestra Hall event.

"Frequently, Lisa appears in pictures with candidates for various offices," Mary Morrissey told Substance. "Lisa went to the April 29 event at Orchestra Hall. She did not speak, and she did not make a contribution."

[Full disclosure: George N. Schmidt is not on any slate in the current CTU election. He currently serves as a delegate for retired teachers in the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates and will be an observer at the vote count on May 21, 2010 for the CORE caucus.]. 


May 20, 2010 at 10:10 PM

By: Jay Rehak

Why would the Attorney General get involved in Union Politics?


Thanks for following up on this and clearing it up for the membership. When I received the UPC mailer at my home, I thought it strange that any caucus would have Illinois politicians endorsing them. This is a Union election, after all. Why should the Illinois Attorney General get involved in our Union politics? The ad that the UPC sent out is nothing less than bizarre.

May 21, 2010 at 12:39 AM

By: Jim Vail

Bizarre Indeed

Not to mention there is huge anti-incumbency hysteria in this country because of how aweful things are and are only getting worse.

The last bastion of real democracy is being played out right now in the Chicago Teachers Union election in which there are 5 groups competing to run the union - unlike our sad local, state and national political arena where there is the 1-2 punch Dem or Repub. (or as Ralph Nader put it, a choice between Tweedly Dee and Tweedly Dum that offers merely cosmetic differences).

The poor voter turnout in this country is an indication that we know there is no real choice for people in these so-called elections mostly bought and paid for by the corporate and wealthy class.

But the CTU race is exciting indeed.

Now to take this on to City Hall and take the crown from Mr. Daley - who apparently is so paranoid about Marilyn losing that I'm sure he urged Jesse White and Lisa Madigan to attend her fundraiser.

I would like to congratulate all the caucuses for fighting hard in this election. But the real work begins after the winner is declared.

May 21, 2010 at 12:40 AM

By: Garth Liebhaber

A UPC Lineup...

It was a bizarre mailer. I was curious about Jesse White being a "full dues-paying member of the Chicago Teachers Union." How does that work? (or maybe it doesn't, except here in Chicago?).

What I really appreciated about that mailer is that it gave nice mug shots of the UPC leadership so I'll know which creep is which.

May 21, 2010 at 2:04 AM

By: Jesse Sharkey

re: A UPC Lineup

No need to call names. It has been a hard fought election, and although there have been some hard elbows, I haven't seen anything too dirty. We've had a month-long debate that's been healthy for the union.

Besides, the people who have the most actual influence over the bad strategies pursued by the UPC never appear on election material at all; in fact, several important ones have never been teachers at all.

There's a lot of rank and file teachers, who swipe a kronos machine and deal with tough kids, just like we do... and who are in a different caucus but are going to be convinced that now is the time to start rebuilding a fighting union.

May 21, 2010 at 10:16 AM

By: Margaret Wilson

Retired teacher/parent

Since retired teachers are told that we can't be full members of the Union under the labor laws since we are not actively teaching, a politician could not be a full dues paying member either so the mailing doesn't make any sense. I can not see a politician endorsing any of the candidates. I would not want anyone who lies so smoothly to represent me.

May 21, 2010 at 12:45 PM

By: Observer


I was at Moos school (California Str.) today. When I entered the building I did not notice any signs about the election. I asked one of the staff if they had voted and they said "no". I asked her if she had been late and maybe missed the vote and she said "no." I REMINDED this person that she had better vote because this is important and mentioned that there should have been several announcements by now telling the place and time to vote (It was after 9:30). The staff member said that, "it is probably taking place in the library." This concerns me because I can't vote and would give anything to have a voice. I am now wondering how the vote was planned and carried out at Moos.

May 21, 2010 at 1:51 PM




May 22, 2010 at 6:11 AM

By: Sharon Schmidt

Run-off between CORE and UPC likely

At midnight, George reported from the AAA vote count that it looks like there will be a run-off between CORE and UPC. At 5:10 a.m. we are still waiting for final results.

May 22, 2010 at 8:27 AM

By: Sharon Schmidt

Election percentages: UPC 31.9, CORE 30, PACT 15.1, CSDU 6.8, SEA 5.6

George says (at 7:25 a.m. via phone from AAA) that these percentages have held all night. There is still another hour or so of counting, but 34 schools have not returned ballots. The final count will not be done until Monday.

He reports that the process has integrity.

Congratulations CORE!

May 22, 2010 at 8:29 AM

By: Sharon Schmidt

A run-off will happen

See percentaages

May 22, 2010 at 9:03 AM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

Congratulations to CORE!

Thanks, George and Sharon Schmidt and Substance, for all your hard work. George, I'm so glad to get this information about the percents for each caucus with such a great showing for CORE. Thanks for being our observer.

May 22, 2010 at 9:24 AM

By: EM


Will all groups unite to beat UPC?

May 22, 2010 at 9:34 AM

By: math teacher

doesn't add up

All of the reported numbers numbers add up to 89.4% Where is the other 10.6% of what was counted?

May 22, 2010 at 9:41 AM

By: math teacher

doesn't add up

All of the reported numbers numbers add up to 89.4% Where is the other 10.6% of what was counted?

May 22, 2010 at 9:58 AM

By: Sharon Schmidt

CORE and UPC in runoff

Sorry about the numbers, math teacher.

UPC 31.9, CORE 30, PACT 15.1, CSDU 6.8, SEA 5.6

I may have messed up what George told me over the phone this morning.

However, the end result will remain. Since midnight it has been certain that only the UPC and PACT will meet in the runoff. Those caucuses are way ahead of the others.

May 22, 2010 at 10:11 AM

By: Kate

Our Goal is Clear

I trust Sharon when she says George's report in the ingtegrity of the process. So now we need to unite behind CORE to defeat UPC. There is no room for bitterness and/or hard feelings. My candidate fought an honest race and lost with honor. Now, I will support CORE 100%. I implore all opposition caucuses to unite behind CORE publicly.

Congratulations CTU members who voted; your vote is your voice.

May 22, 2010 at 10:18 AM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

the math and the saintliness of Jesse Sharkey here

Several notes: Xian Barrett writes on the CORE listserve that maybe there was a great rate of spoiled ballots. I can believe that there were given the number of caucuses running candidates.

Margaret, the answer to your comment here is that maybe Jessie White is a "full dues paying member of the union" because as a former teacher, he pays his full retiree union dues of $24 a year.

Jesse, I can understand being a gracious winner and issuing a call for no name-calling. However, when you say that you haven't seen anything too dirty in this election, you are closing your eyes to the many documented unbelievable dirty tricks that Marilyn has pulled, one even as late as the day before the election blast faxing the principals not to be intimidated by "outsiders" coming into their buildings to distribute campaign literature. This after her company union antics with CPS CEO Huberman and others at the CPS offices to stop democratic communications among union members. I'll stop here, but you know I could go on and on.

May 22, 2010 at 10:25 AM

By: Carol Caref

CORE-UPC runoff a certainty

More than 2/3 of voters indicated they do not want to continue with the same old UPC "leadership".

According to a CORE observer, as 8:52 AM, the Canvassing Committee was going home for the day. Counting is over until Monday.

19,477 total ballots have been counted. About 35 ballot boxes are still sitting in schools--they were not picked up Friday.

The following numbers include only straight ticket votes--voters who split their vote, about 9%, have not been tallied yet.

UPC- 6,283; 32.2%

CORE- 5,970; 30.6%

PACT- 3,144; 16.1%

CSDU- 1,273; 6.5%

SEA- 1,127; 5.7%

May 22, 2010 at 10:53 AM

By: Carol Caref

Clarifying percentages for ballots counted so far

Just to clarify, of the 17797 straight ticket ballots that have been tabulated, the percentages are as follows:

UPC, 6283 votes, 35.3%

CORE, 5970 votes, 33.5%

PACT, 3144 votes, 17.7%

CSDU, 1273 votes, 7.2%

SEA, 1127 votes, 6.3%

May 22, 2010 at 12:16 PM

By: xian from CORE


From earlier:

"Several notes: Xian Barrett writes on the CORE listserve that maybe there was a great rate of spoiled ballots. I can believe that there were given the number of caucuses running candidates."

I was just speculated, and was clearly wrong. As Carol explained above, the difference is not in spoiled ballots--it was because of the non-slate ballots.

Sorry about that!



May 22, 2010 at 12:44 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Retired teacher/parent

Congrats to CORE on reaching the run-off stage. Hopefully now everyone will unite to defeat Marilyn. Jesse, you are an innocent and probably new to Union politics if you have seen nothing dirty in this process. Marilyn has been trying to destroy a democratic union since she was elected. Many of us have stopped being active because of her and her games.

May 22, 2010 at 1:02 PM

By: kugler

Focus is Needed

Now we all need to focus our energy on wining back our union. Anyone that wants to help coordinate between the different groups email me.

john kugler

May 22, 2010 at 1:57 PM

By: Jim Vail

High Expectations?

I think the expectations of dirty tricks were so high, that the fact this election was pulled off (of course despite the Huberman letter, the lies of an endorsement of Lisa Madigan, and more dirt piling up, etc.) can make some believe it wasn't so bad.

Reminds me of Russian President Boris Yeltsin's re-election when many believed he would cancel the elections because everyone hated him. Instead he bought the election and used the old Watergate tricks and fear and everything a Machine is supposed to do to win despite everyone - except the few billionaire oligarchs he created - hating him.

So it ain't that bad.

May 25, 2010 at 3:33 AM

By: Debra Blackmon-Parrish


I am a candidate on the UPC Caucus and do not appreciate being called a name because I believe and support a different Caucus. I deem with all of the madness we are experiencing with the Board there is absolutely NO room for new caucus' to run our Union especially if they are an outside organization with a possible hidden agenda (CORE).

The last time we had a rookie Caucus negotiating our contract we ended up loosing more than we gained.

Even Walter Jacobson's commentary said it all.

Walter: What's At Stake In School Election?

Walter Jacobson


"There's not much being said about it, but the union election Friday is a big one due to the crisis in our public schools.

Teachers' jobs and our children’s' lives are on the line, so the union needs a president who can browbeat politicians.

The big bosses in City Hall and Springfield and at the Board of Education are pressuring the teachers to give back some of the paltry wage increase in their contract and strong-arming them to teach 35 kids in a classroom.

The union president elected Friday would have to deal with a $600 million deficit in the school budget and begin to plan for a teacher strike.

The candidates for president include Marilyn Stewart, the incumbent, who has four years' experience in the trenches versus three rookies who have none.

Marilyn Stewart experience vs. rookie fresh faces. Out with the old, in with the new? That's the question.

It's hard to predict what will happen, but one thing is for sure: The bosses downtown are rooting for the rookies to get them to a bargaining table and eat them alive."

(© MMX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Keep in mind that the new administrations down at the Bd are not just there for show. We need to continue the fight for job securities, pension, class sizes and more.....

May 25, 2010 at 8:42 AM

By: Danielle from CORE

Outside organization?

How is CORE an "outside" organization? We're a union caucus, we're CPS teachers... we've been inside the CTU and are just finally coming together. And what is this "possible hidden agenda"? The intentions of the current leadership have always been pure?

May 25, 2010 at 9:46 AM

By: Afyna Troy


I remember Marilyn being a rookie. I also remember Debra being a rookie as well. I\'ve been in CPS for 15 years and I have yet to experience true union leadership. I asked Ms. Stewert at one of her \"non-campaign\" meetings at my school, \"Why has the union been powerless in saving our jobs?\" She rambled on and on for 20 minutes and then stated, \"I\'m just one person\"! Really? Ms. Vaughn was just one person as well! She spent the entire meeting talking about the contract that she was able to get for teachers and ripping the other caucuses apart. I was truly not impressed! I would rather take a chance with CORE than vote for another politician!

May 25, 2010 at 10:53 AM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

Walter Jacobson and the other Marilyn Stewart supporters

The other UPC Marilyn Stewart supporter here says Walter Jabcobson said it all. Now if Jacobson hadn't done it the night before the election, I would say he was just innocently giving his own unresearched, naive opinion wrapped in a cliche about rookies vs. experience. However, while conveniently ignoring the fact that Marilyn was a total rookie when she squeezed into power, Walter became a booster for Marilyn's reelection, just as Daley's henchman Huberman was when he tried to shut down all campaigning in the schools by all the other candidates except Marilyn.

Let's call it what it is: Marilyn is the do-nothing-for-union-members candidate of choice for those in power who have set out to create for-profit education by destroying public education. There is documented proof of memos Marilyn/her officers and staff have sent to board of education authorities turning in union members for trying to communicate with one another on union issues. She has also worked to fire union members in her "fresh start" program to show the powers in the city which side she is really on.

That she can give a fund-raising banquet inviting politicos who she then pretends have endorsed her--a banquet not even advertised on the union website for members to know about--shows she knows who her true supporters are and that she is not working for the members of the union.

Marilyn has brazenly ignored the union constitution refusing to let the elected house of delegates vote on many matters requiring their vote. She has shut down microphones and had her people shout down speakers in the house that offered her any opposition. When the house was "allowed" to vote on a few matters, she flipped vote totals (once even showing a photo of those standing to vote "No" in the union paper with a caption saying her motion passed). In the case of the last contract vote, she refused to count the "No" votes saying the contract she negotiated passed (while continuing ever after to blame former president Debbie Lynch for the union's "bad" contract).

Marilyn Stewart and her UPC caucus have obscenely enriched themselves and many of their supporters with exhorbitant salaries, but even worse, hidden benefits and perks they have fraudulently fought against revealing.

When she told one of the commenters here that she was only one person, she again revealed her view of the union as a monarchy. As a self-created monarch,she totally discounts the union members. Once she sent one email out to the union delegates asking them to get teachers out to Operation Push on a Saturday to protest actions of the board. When too few turned out to this unorganized and underplayed "action", she complained that teachers aren't interested in protest and has now used this excuse over and over again to do nothing over and for years!

I applaud CORE, the other caucus in the race, for mobilizing teachers, students, parents, and community over and over again to defend public education, their schools, and the teachers. I have hopes that CORE can restore what is left of the union after Marilyn has almost succeeded in destroying it (with thousands of teacher and staff jobs lost and schools closed)with her version of the company union which serves management and corporate interests rather than the members and the cornerstone of this great country, public and democratic education. CORE must win this election or we are doomed.

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