Leaders criticize Rahm Emanuel for 'demonizing' teachers, 'negotiating in the media'... Chicago Public School Unions Show Support for Embattled Teachers Union

The leaders of workers from unions that represent thousands of service and support staff such as lunchroom workers, aides, custodians, security guards and engineers in the Chicago Public Schools came out to show support for the Chicago Teachers Union who they claim have been unfairly demonized by mayor Rahm Emanuel’s obsession with extending the school day without negotiating.

Flanked by SEIU Local 73 vice president Taalib-din Jiyad (standing left) and Unite HERE president Henry Tamarin, SEIU Local 73 president Christine Boardman told reporters on October 13 at a press conference in front of CPS headquarters that CPS should stop working with Mayor Rahm Emanuel in trying to "demonize" teachers and the teachers union and begin serious bargaining over the longer school day for Chicago public schools. Substance photo by Jim Vail.“The administration thus far has chosen to engage in a media campaign against the teachers, rather than thoughtful negotiations,” Henry Tamarin, president of Unite Here Local 1, said at a press conference outside the Board of Education headquarters on Thursday, October 13, 2011.

Tamarin was joined at the press conference by Christine Boardman, president of SEIU Local 73, who did not read from a prepared script.

“Everyone is trying to make the teachers the scapegoat, but we need a respectful dialogue,” Boardman told about a dozen members of the media. “You don’t negotiate in the press."

The media asked why does the CTU refuse to be a partner with the Board of Ed to implement a longer school day. Boardman said the issues raised in the media have not been put on the table between the teachers union and the mayor’s office.

A WBBM news reporter asked what they thought about the fact that the teachers union could be losing the longer school day battle in the public eye.

Substancenews then asked this reporter to clarify his question about public support for the mayor. The reporter smiled and said, noting, “of course” this is information coming from the mayor’s office that he has the public’s support. Substance told the reporter that the public also supports the teachers being properly compensated for the extra hours worked.

The WBBM reporter said that he cannot give his opinion about this subject; that he can only give both sides of the story, and check on the facts.

Challenging the corporate media's understanding of the battle between the mayor and the unions is important today so that their belief in this fictional "objectivity" reporting is being watched closely by those knowledgeable about the subject.

Boardman and Tamarin said they have not taken a position on whether or not they support a longer school day. “We don’t know the impact this would have on our workers yet,” Tamarin said.

NPR reporter Linda Lutton asked what the union officials thought about CTU President Karen Lewis’s refusal to go to Brown Elementary School to speak with CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. According to Substance, Lewis first offered to meet with Brizard at the CTU headquarters, and he refused.

“If you want to negotiate, then bring it to the table,” Boardman said in response. Boardman noted the money games CPS is playing when it said it had no money to pay the last year of the teacher’s contracted raises, but suddenly found money to entice teachers to work a longer day.

She said Emanuel’s decision to declare some of the TIF money a surplus, but exactly how much and where it would go is not yet known, is a step in the right direction. “The mayor has started to see the light,” she said, “but he hasn’t gone far enough.”


For Immediate Release: Thursday, October 13, 2011, For questions, contact Annemarie Strassel, UNITE HERE Local 1, 312-617-0495,

A Statement to the Board of Education from the Service and Support Workers at CPS Schools

“We represent the employees of Chicago Public Schools who are not teachers. We are the Aides, Security Guards, Custodians, Engineers, Lunchroom Workers and all the other workers who are responsible for Chicago’s children from the moment they step on to the school grounds in the morning until they leave at the end of the day.

We are professionals who make sure that the school buildings work, are clean, that our children our safe and that they are fed. When it comes to Chicago’s kids, we are where the rubber meets road.

We’re proud of the work we do and think that the children of Chicago are serious business and should be treated in that fashion. We ask that the Board of Education take a more constructive and serious approach with us on addressing our mutual issues.

The Administration thus far has chosen to engage in a media campaign against the teachers, rather than thoughtful negotiations, to the detriment of the entire community. We are all in this together, and are all in this for the children that we are here to support. There has yet to be a proposal from the administration across the bargaining table for a longer school day — we first read about it in the newspaper rather than hearing about it from the administrations' negotiators.

We didn’t create the length of the school day, the Board of Education did. We’re willing to negotiate extending the school day, but this takes good faith negotiations, not more Board of Education press statements and confrontational rhetoric and tactics. Our children deserve a more respectful and thoughtful approach.”

Signers: Henry Tamarin, President of UNITE HERE Local 1, Tallib-Din Ziyad, Vice President of SEIU Local 73, William Iaccullo, President of Operating Engineers Local 143-143B, Michael Nugent, Business Representative of IBEW 134, and Timothy Healy, Vice President of SEIU Local 1.

Background In recent weeks, the Board of Education has waged a fierce attack in the media on teachers represented by CTU Local 1 in the Chicago Public School system, focused primarily on the length of the school day. Now — in a show of support for CPS teachers — unions representing thousands of service and support staff at CPS are calling for an end to the Board’s confrontational rhetoric.

In a press conference today, these unions issued a statement, encouraging instead a more respectful dialogue and collaboration with staff who work directly with our city’s children to achieve improvements in the quality of education in Chicago Public Schools. Unions participating in today’s press conference represent thousands of service and support staff at the school, such as custodians, lunchroom workers, aides, security guards and engineers, who will also face separate contract negotiations with the Board of Education in coming months.

Those present included President Henry Tamarin of UNITE HERE Local 1, President Christine Boardman of SEIU Local 73, representatives of the Operating Engineers Local 143-143B, and CPS service and support staff.


October 16, 2011 at 3:27 PM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

When unions support each other

Feels so good when these other unions stand up for us. I hope we return the favor and stand with them unlike what the UPC leadership under Marilyn Stewart and others did in the past.

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