CTU members — save your money now... Mayor Emanuel and his millionaire and billionaire backers want to force a CTU strike even before the current union contract expires on June 30, 2012

By the middle of the 1980s, when I was Chicago Teachers Union delegates from Amundsen High School, and later during the 1990s, when I was delegate from Bowen High School, if prospects for a teachers' union strike looked plausible in the Spring, I'd simply tell the members at my school "Save your money this summer."

Rahm Emanuel is clearly saluting the Chicago Teachers Union with his middle finger. The city's billionaires and millionaires — led by Emanuel — are already waging class war against the city's unions. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Everyone knew what that meant back in those days. As the melodramas about Chicago's corporate "school reform" unfold as the school year moves towards its conclusion, the billionaires who backed Emanuel's bid for mayor are demanding that Emanuel break the CTU, and they don't even plan to wait until the current contract expires. By the time Emanuel is sworn in on May 16 and becomes mayor, the media attacks on CTU and on Chicago's public schools will have reached an even shriller level than they've been the past few months. Once again, the Board of Education is lying to the public about its finances (the "shortfall" — notice they don't call it a "deficit" because that term requires accountants' precision). Once again, the editors of the Chicago Tribune are screaming against public schools and public school teachers — and especially against unions. And Rahm Emanuel's obsession even before he becomes mayor and before he appoints his school board and the CPS "Chief Executive Officer" is the once militant and mighty Chicago Teachers Union.

Now that the Democrats have declared that they intend to make Illinois a Wisconsin, at least for the Chicago Teachers Union and the Cook County College Teachers Union, the advice has to be spread across the city. It's clear form his public remarks that incoming Mayor Rahm Emanuel intends to provoke the Chicago Teachers Union as soon as possible. He has already told the media that he doesn't need to wait for contract negotiations to lengthen the school day, because as far as he's concerned the teachers have already been paid for the extra work via the raises working teachers have gotten the past four years.

With the support of the Democrats in Chicago, outside of Chicago, and in Washington, D.C., Emanuel obviously intends to try and destroy the Chicago Teachers Union without waiting for negotiations to begin a year from now. The current union contract doesn't expire until June 30, 2012, but the former Chief of Staff for Barack Obama has already declared was on the CTU and Chicago's public school teachers.

After helping the Chicago Board of Education create the phony 'deficits' during the years Arne Duncan was Chief Executive Officer of CPS, budget director Beth Swanson left CPS. Within a few months, she was director or the Pritzker-Traubert Family Foundation, working for Penny Pritzker, the billionaire whose owns the Hyatt hotels and who helped bankroll Stand for Children's attack on the Chicago Teachers Union. Swanson is now heading up Rahm Emanuel's "education" transition team. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt, The only question from this point on is whether that class war that's been wages against Chicago's teachers and public education in Chicago will be as one-sided as it's been for the past 20 years. The legislation now moving through the Illinois General Assembly, which has already passes the Illinois Senate, discriminates against Chicago's unions — again.

Today, I'm a delegate representing retired teachers in the CTU House of Delegates. Were I still a school delegate, as I was during the last days when CTU had to fight to prevent the Board from further undermining us, my advice would be the same as it was, say, during the summer of 1987.

Don't plan any expensive vacations. Save your money. We might be in a fight we didn't ask for or want, but if we don't fight, we know what's going to happen. As (former CTU President) Jacqueline Vaughn used to say when faced with these attacks from the Board of Education and those who ran Chicago: "It's time to stand up and be counted, or roll over and be mounted."


April 16, 2011 at 9:26 AM

By: Rod Estvan

Preparing for a strike

I don’t think any one of us can completely predict the future. But there is a real possibility that the CPS in June will declare that it can’t meet its fiscal obligations to honor the current CTU contract and possibly all other contracts. This will void the existing contract and create the scenario that George is discussing.

Is the deficit or shortfall number real? It is now according to CPS either $720 million or $820 million depending on which source one uses. CPS, as does every other public school district in America, makes budget projections based on estimated revenues. As always how a budget office frames a budget deficit is part political gamesmanship. Clearly, CPS is going to get less revenue from the state and federal government next year, it is also facing delayed payments from the state this school year.

The State Comptroller, now the Republican Ms. Topinka, issued a report about two weeks ago showing that like last year the state was falling behind in payments, as of the end of March by $4.499 billion in total. ISBE has directly confirmed to me the number CPS is using for delayed payments and will not give any estimated date that CPS will receive the money it is owed from the state.

Clearly CPS has a fiscal problem, and part of that problem also has to do with our past Mayor’s orders to the CPS Board on not raising property taxes over the years. Now according to at least one report CEO Mazany is advising Mayor elect Emanuel to raise property taxes, to in part at least offset the problem. From comments I have seen in the news it appears the CTU may be opposing this tax rate increase, I don’t agree with that position, but that is a topic for another discussion. Mr. Mazany is also issuing budgets to the chiefs with significant cuts in them according to people I talk with at the central office.

There are many ways to deal with the CPS budget problems, layoff teachers is one, but another is to force teachers not only to give up the raise for FY12, but also to extract a wage cut for teachers on top of giving up the raise. CPS will likely if it moves to cut teachers wages also cut those of charter school teachers by reducing tuition paid to these schools. As this sector grows reducing costs for charter operations will become more and more important.

Very shortly the CTU will based on pending legislation, SB7, be required to have 75% of its members vote for a strike if all of these bad things happen. I have little doubt that teachers in the House of delegates who are overwhelmingly long term committed to education would vote to authorize a strike vote if faced with both giving up the raise and a pay cut. I am not sure some younger teachers will go along with that vote and that may become a problem in reaching 75%. George’s advise of getting your money saved for a strike is a wise one, but many younger teachers because of college debt and an understandable attempt to live a middle class life style may have little room in their individual budgets to prepare for class warfare.

I am glad George wrote this article, because it is important that teachers and parents begin to think about where we may be headed in the next few months. It is better that teachers, parents, and community members discuss the issue George has so clearly raised, rather than talk about it in hushed whispers in teachers lunchrooms across the city.

Rod Estvan

April 16, 2011 at 10:30 AM

By: John Kugler

Crony Capitalism

From my experience working in the schools and now in the union I have yet to see where bargaining unit members are either not doing their jobs or wasting millions of dollars. What I see is members doing their jobs advocating and servicing students, so where is all this money disappearing to? It is clear that children are still enrolled in our city schools so where is all the money? The only logical explanation that is money is misallocated for projects and payments that are not related to student instruction:

1) Crony Hiring: Babara Lumpkin, Alica Winkler, Huberman

2) Wasteful spending: IDS, Scranton, People Soft, Testing

3) Illegal Investments: Derivatives, Swaps

4) Inflated Central Office Salaries

5) Law Department

5) Incompetent Administrators: Law Suits and Arbitration

6) Misallocation of Public Funds to Charters

Why and how are the bargaining unit members to blame for central office malfeasance? I have yet to defend any bargaining unit member that is accused of stealing millions of dollars from the Board of Ed or making the Board of Ed broke. The fault of these budget crises is not the Union but the Daley appointed crony's who help pilfer the Board of Ed for Billions of dollars since he took control of the school board in 1995. Now the solution is to steal wages and benefits from the union members that service the students of Chicago.

Besides talking about a strike, we should all be gathering evidence for criminal charges against everyone (Principals, CEO’s, CAO’s, and Central Office) that stole money from the Children of Chicago and put them in harms way.

Why do we always have to defend our right to keep what we earned, when we know that the cronies at 125 Clark Street and Area Offices are laughing all the way to the bank!

John Kugler

I hold it that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.

--Thomas Jefferson

April 16, 2011 at 11:00 AM

By: Rosa Gonzalez

A call for strike.

I am sure ,that the CTU lost its credibility already by not providing appropriate and effective services to members.

Members will ignore the call for strike.

Chicago Teachers Union is representing a small group of leftist not a whole membership.

How many teachers showed up for Sat.rally?

You mentioned about 500.500 out of almost 30 000 ?Who want to pay $1000a year to crooked Union?

Give me a break.

April 16, 2011 at 11:29 AM

By: John Kugler

Funny and Sad

One of the ironies of the past week is that some of the most outlandish criticisms of the current CTU leadership have been coming from the people who negotiated the old contract (the one that failed to put layoff and rehiring provisions into the contract in the event of economic layoffs, thereby hamstringing the union in the federal litigation that has just ended).

During the CTU House of Delegates meeting on April 13, members of the United Progressive Caucus harped on the question of why CTU couldn't win back the jobs of the teachers who were cut last summer, ignoring the fact, clearly noted in the Seventh Circuit decision, that CTU didn't have contract language protecting teachers during layoffs and for rehiring under the current contract. That contract was negotiated by Marilyn Stewart in the summer of 2007, as we reported at Substance, and voted on by the same people who were complaining in 2011.

April 16, 2011 at 11:31 AM

By: Sean Noonan

Strike and SB 7

IF SB 7 passes as is, then the CTU's ability to strike will be seriously weakened. The extended time of mandatory arbitration and public review could add 90-120 days to the strike run up time line. The theoretical right to strike is retained but the practical ability to actually have a strike is seriously diminished. To make matters worse the IEA, IFT and CTU call SB7 a win. Calling a loss a victory is not a good way to mobilize the rank and file.

April 16, 2011 at 3:55 PM

By: Rod Estvan

How did this happen

I was not in the meetings, but I was in Springfield during the time several meetings were held. Here is why it happened from what I can understand: (1) the Democratic leadership supported at least part if not most of the changes Stand for Children were promoting, (2) the CTU was only one union voice at the meetings also present were the IEA, and IFT. The IEA does not have a local in Chicago so the strike issue in the city is not of primary concern to them and for many years the IEA supported Republican candidates for Governor and other offices in Illinois. It is not exactly a militant outfit, (3) the most powerful business groups in Chicago wanted a complete ban for the right to strike, (4) the Mayor elect wanted a complete ban for the right to strike, (5) the Tribune, Fox, and several other media outlet want the CTU's right to strike taken away.

Given the situation the members of the CTU are lucky they have retained the right to strike at all. I do think the question raised about going to the House of Delegates over the terms of SB 7 is legitimate. But the truth is if the membership voted down a draft of SB7 it would have been imposed anyway and likely with a full strike ban. Maybe if CTU pulled out all the stops it could have gotten a hand full of votes against the bill if it stood alone against it.

The bigger problem really has to do with how the Democratic party is treating unions in Illinois and Chicago. Hanging your own leaders will surely please the Civic Committee there would be nothing they would like more than to see CTU members fighting amongst themselves.

Rod Estvan

April 17, 2011 at 8:49 AM

By: John Kugler

right to strike

Our right to strike is part of what we need to think about. The UFT (United Federation of Teachers, in New York City) has a strike ban against it called the "Taylor Law." They have a strong union mobilization system that has continuous direct action campaigns, many of them aimed at political lobbying, others at direct action. They are stronger than the CTU in some respects in regards to member advocacy. We need to have a strong rank and file that works to mobilize each building and neighborhood. How many contract articles, state laws, and federal laws have been broken in just the past year? What is written on paper means nothing, it is what an organization can do on the ground that counts. The strength of the union does not come from Springfield, City Hall or Merchandise Mart it comes from its membership. You do not get power, You take power.

In Solidarity

April 17, 2011 at 10:06 AM

By: Bob Busch


Not yet

Strikes on the entire system are becoming obsolete but we haven’t reached that

tipping point yet, here is my take on this situation.

As a student teacher in May of 1969 in the faculty lounge at Haper the

debate ranged .There were many heated arguments about going on strike.

Many teachers were sure our union would not have the guts to go out,

after all this was our first strike. When the day came everyone went out.

Our goals were clear our demands precise. Even some student teachers risked

disobeying Mr Kelly and walked the line.

After that every time we walked I was there .The emotion I experienced was

The same every time, that is what people don’t understand.

On the line we were giving it right back to the bastards downtown who made

The life of students and teachers absolute hell. We carried signs blew scab

whistles and actually told the red squad cop to wait for everyone to round the

Corner of 69th so she could take a group picture , she did and was very nice and told

us to keep up the good work. After every strike we felt better win lose or draw.

But today things are different, young teachers have not experienced the feeling of being

A real part of the labor movement ,or the personal satisfaction in trying to right

horrible social wrongs .To repeat the war cry of an old radical union caucus “too nice too long”.

We need to walk right now, like we should have done in 88 and 95.Even if we loose

The experience is worth the risk.

April 17, 2011 at 1:57 PM

By: The Retired Principal (RP)

Save Your Money!

I was a Chicago Teachers Union Delegate for 15 years. CTU members, SAVE YOUR MONEY! You will need it, one way or the other!

April 18, 2011 at 12:51 AM

By: Adela Lawson


Kugler,we should be rallying at the governors home and at his office before he signs this into law. I thought last Saturday's rally had 10,000 people attend. I hope CTU has a plan to get back what we lost because Mrs. Lewis gave away the farm. Please tell me there is something the CTU is planning as a quick strategic response. You know with the longer school day we will not be compensated. So when Rahm says we have to work the extended time without any compensation how will CTU respond? You know thats coming. Consider George''s above article, he said it best Rahm is not going to give in. Do you really think we cam pull of a strike? Do you think that members would vote for that? Realistically, we should start hitting Springfield next week with mass marches chanting recall or amend SB7. Maybe even march in front of Rahm's house but oh yeah we would have to get all of our members to the burbs of DC. Chicago Teachers are being discriminated against by requiring them to take a vote with 75% of membership agreeing. Seems a bit discriminitory to me. Probably because we have the highest number of African American teachers throughout the state. I know that the Senator that sponsored it was black but i'm certain that's why she sponsored so it didn't look like discrimination against African American teachers. Lets do it, let's mobilize the troops. how about we all go down and get on Quinn's case and persuade him to veto the bill.

April 18, 2011 at 10:19 AM

By: Bob



I personally trust the current union leadership. None of us know what hand

Was dealt to us. I do believe Ms. Lewis and company are on the right tract by using

The courts ,not the news media to push our agenda. One thing I would do is see created is

A group of fearless investigators who would relieve the school rep’s from the threat of retaliation

By filing volumes of grievances ,as well as enforcing every law pertaining to campus

environment and the health and safety of every human in the school. Including the instillation

of cheap iron fences .

April 18, 2011 at 12:32 PM

By: The Retired Principal (RP)

Jean-Claude Brizard, New CEO of CPS

As I predicted, the new CEO of CPS is Jean-Claude Brizard, the superintendent of Rochester, New York!

April 18, 2011 at 4:47 PM

By: So CPS needs more discrimination?

EEOC complaint against our new CEO

EEOC FINDS BIAS IN OUSTER OF ROCHESTER SCHOOLS OFFICIAL, July 7, 2010, Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY)

A federal commission has determined that the Rochester School District discriminated against its former highest-ranking instructional official when it forced her out of her job earlier this year.

Acting on a complaint filed in January by the official, Marilynn Patterson-Grant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that the district discharged her “because of her sex, her race and her age,” according to a letter issued by the commission last week.

The findings, which are nonbinding, are the basis for a federal discrimination lawsuit filed Tuesday by Patterson-Grant against the district and its superintendent, Jean-Claude Brizard.

Patterson-Grant, a 35-year veteran of the city school system, is of African-American descent and was 57 years old when she was ousted from her position as deputy superintendent by Brizard, who is a black Haitian immigrant. He has said he discharged her because of poor performance...

The EEOC complaint charged that Brizard told Patterson-Grant and other veteran district educators, “You are all old” and “in teaching, age matters,” and implied that Brizard saw veterans as a threat to his authority under a mayoral-controled system.

“You remember that one of the charges made against me was keeping too many of the old guard,” the complaint alleged Brizard said. “(The) people most affected (by mayoral control) will be central office people. The effort will be to get rid of a lot of R.I.P.’s. You know what R.I.P.’s are? Retired in place.”

Brizard has said he does not recall making such statements.

The lawsuit is seeking punitive damages, although Patterson-Grant’s attorney, Christina Agola, said there was no reason her client could not continue working.

“When you have such a high-ranking administrator making statements that are so plainly, on-their-face discriminatory, it has to be brought to task,” Agola said.

April 18, 2011 at 5:10 PM

By: J. Whitfield

Brizzard's Rochester Budget

Students and Community Protest Proposed School Budget


17 Apr 2011

Students and community members showed up in force to the April 12th Rochester School Board meeting to oppose the proposed 2011-2012 budget which would cut 908 teaching positions district-wide and further defund arts education.

School of the Arts students organized a march from the liberty pole to central office. The loud and energetic march met with lots of support from the onlookers downtown.

At the school board meeting, approximately 100 students, teachers, parents, community members and activists articulated reasons why the Brizzard's Budget is unacceptable.


Re: Students and Community Protest Proposed School Budget17 Apr 2011

by anonymous

Congratulations to all of the students, parents, grandparents, educators, activists and others who have continued to resist the big-business backed onslaught against public education, and their continuing drive toward privatization. We must continue to agitate, educate and organize. Even beyond the current budget crisis --- ultimately, we need to build local, regional and national movements aimed at producing widespread, sustainable, permanent, fundamental change and improvement within the Rochester City School District and beyond. The Struggle Continues...


April 18, 2011 at 8:43 PM

By: john kugler

new tool in town

These two posts just probably without too much research are shocking. How can a non-mayor start appointments and especially someone who has an open eeoc complaint against them, does not that violate cps ethics rules? Plus what about the three year contract he just signed with the school district he is working for right now. Just goes to show we got another carpetbagger coming to town to help steal from the children of Chicago. Penny you better get ready to protect this guy cause he sounds like a mess.

May 8, 2011 at 4:57 PM

By: Johanna Brocker

PSAE WEEK & Teacher Appreciation Week at Wells

During Prairie State Week at Wells, Principal Matias ordered a group of teachers to report at 6:45 to prepare snacks for the students.

Another group--hall proctors, room proctors and supervisors)were ordered to report for a 7:30 meeting (the 4th meeting on how to conduct the PSAE) and immediately report to their duties. Reg. start:8 Exam start: 9 am

Hall proctors gave rooms sups and proctors a break. Hall proctors had no break and took students downstairs until 1:15 or so.

Teachers were then allowed their lunch period. Two o'clock began one prep period and they were "allowed" to go home.Out of 4 prep periods, two gained, two lost. No pay for early work.

The next day was an instant reply. Friday was a breakfast, complete with tiaras, for the support staff. Teacher Week: NOTHING.

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