CORE Organizes Grassroots for Runoff

CORE — the Caucus of Rank and File Educators — met on Monday, May 24, 2010, to organize and develop strategies to win the runoff election scheduled for June 11 against CTU President Marilyn Stewart and her UPC caucus.

CORE co-chairman and presidential candidate Karen Lewis (standing, above right) helped CORE members regroup for the two and a half weeks leading up to the June 11, 2010 runoff for CTU leadership. Above, Lewis is addressing the CORE organizing meeting held on May 24, 2010, on the south side while the CTU was laboriously completing the vote count from the May 21 voting. Substance photo by Garth Liebhaber. New and old CORE supporters and organizers gathered to discuss the recent election, the May 25 Rally against the budget cuts, campaign messages, new literature, fundraising, and regional organizations.

The first question that led to a fiery debate was apathy, with one teacher noting that many teachers just ask the delegate who to vote for because many do not know who are the candidates.

On the other hand, it was noted that 20,000 out of 26,000 members voted, and that a higher percentage of eligible voters voted in the May 21 election than at any previous CTU election.

"Our union has let us down," CORE presidential candidate Karen Lewis told a crowd of almost 100 gathered at the Letter Carrier's Union in the Bronzeville neighborhood. "We know the Board hates us. The Merchandise Mart has contempt for the membership. Ultimately it is our responsibility because we are the union."

Lewis outlined three key points that will define CORE: 1) Fight the budget cuts, 2) Fix the media perception of public education, and 3) Unite the Chicago Teachers Union.

"We are fighting the budget cuts that will rob our children, so we filed a lawsuit," Lewis said. "If they say we don't have the money, we say prove it. We have to repair the image of teachers. We have been torn to shreds by the big corporate media, so we have a media plan. Marilyn will start slinging mud at us, (but) we ran on our record. We are already doing the work of the union."

The May 25th rally was discussed, and the irony of two election opponents needing to work together to show a large force against the devastating cuts Mayor Daley is proposing, including an increase to 35 students in a class and 2700 teacher layoffs.

Kelly High School delegate and CORE trustee Eric Skalinder noted that his school will be sending five buses of students and teachers after CPS approved their request for a field trip. He said CPS agreed to pay for two of the buses, while the Union said it would only pay for one bus.

One charter school teacher attended the CORE event and said he understood the problem with privatization and anti-unionism. He said he wanted to support the rally at the Board of Education headquarters and asked what charter school teachers could do to fight for better conditions for all teachers.

Recording Secretary Michael Brunson then led a chant for the group: "Education is Under Attack — What do we do? — Fight Back!"

A five-minute discussion was devoted to the right campaign messaging.

"We have to make it clear to everyone that the House is on fire," said Earl Silbar, a retired teacher. "CORE has been leading the fight city-wide and that is what the teachers have to understand."

One of the UPC's biggest criticisms agaisnt CORE is its supposed "lack of experience".

Lewis has countered that the experience Stewart claims to have has resulted in a proliferation of charter and turnaround schools and the loss of almost 6,000 union jobs. She said it should be noted that two of the UPC candidates had no experience negotiating the current five-year contract that includes annual 4% raises that the Board would like to rescind.

"It's a union, not a monarchy," Lewis said.

Following campaing messaging, CORE leaders said they would limit the outrageous perks and salaries Stewart and her officers make by advocating for those who work for the union to be paid the same as their teacher salary, but on a longer schedule of 52 weeks in a year.

Election highlight successes included CORE visiting more than 120 schools, distributing flyers and information in every school and handing out DVDs that highlight CORE's accomplishments.

But Lewis and her fellow officer candidates noted that their work has only begun, because they will need to convince those who did not vote for CORE in the first round, why they should vote CORE in the runoff. 


May 25, 2010 at 8:00 PM

By: David Schwartz


CORE has to do more to bring the other caucuses into the fold. They should not forget that 60% of the voters did not vote for them. That 60% went to the other caucuses for a reason. CORE must get all the other caucuses to bring their supporters in line and tell them why they should vote for CORE. The run-off could go any way at this point. I sincerely hope they are doing that. The more middle of the line voters think CORE is too liberal.

May 25, 2010 at 10:23 PM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

The Caucuses Must Unite To Defeat a Corrupt Tyrant

The caucuses who oppose the UPC candidate Marilyn Stewart must unite to defeat this corrupt do-nothing tyrant who has come close to destroying the union and has allowed Daley and the corporate powers in Chicago to continue destroying public education and school after school. Under Stewart's misleadership six thousand teachers have lost jobs and neighborhoods have lost their schools and teachers. Vote for CORE on June 11th.

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