Subscript: CTU leadership screws up LEAD dinner

…As usual, the November issue of the Chicago Union Teacher (the union’s official newspaper) didn’t arrive by mail until December, so there was no way we could officially appreciate the LEAD dinner until now. Happy New Year.

LEAD (which stands for “Legislators Educators Appreciation Dinner”) has long been a major event for the Chicago Teachers Union. For years (even in non-election years) every major political leader in Illinois (except Mayor Daley) — including many Republicans — made sure they attended and circulated among the thousands there. Daley’s been afraid of the teachers since be began his teacher bashing corporate “school reform” dictatorship a dozen years ago.

This year, however, the thing was a near disaster, under CTU President Marilyn Stewart and her now dominant “United Progressive Caucus” (UPC). It wasn’t always that way. Despite an attempt by the UPC to sabotage the 2001 LEAD Dinner (after Debbie Lynch first became CTU President), the turnouts at LEAD (both politicians and CTU members) were unprecedented during the early years of the 21st Century. Governor Rod Blagojevich, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, both U.S. senators, and most county and state officials were usually at LEAD.

Mayor Daley boycotted the event because his handlers warned him that his reactionary conservative Republican policies would — especially his arrogant privatization programs and across the board union busting against public employee unions — would probably get him booed. The 2007 LEAD dinner showed how weak the CTU has become. Not only were there fewer tables, but almost no major politicians. The caption on the photo spread (as well as the photos themselves in the centerfold) told the story: “Among the state officials in attendance were Secretary of State Jesse White, State Treasurer Alex Giannoulias, and Cook County David Orr." The list of the missing would have filled half the page.

While we were glad to see that the Chicago Union Teacher continues to feature photographs of Substance staff member Lotty Blumenthal, a few other faces — such as the state’s national, state and local Democratic Party leaders — might have convinced us that CTU was still a force to be reckoned with. But let’s face it. Every state official who has a payroll to meet (Jesse White has one of the largest, but David Orr is not far behind) knows the first rule of management, politics, and unionism is to make sure everyone is paid accurately, fairly and on time. The new leadership of the CTU may chatter about being “on attack over numerous CPS payroll errors”, but it was Marilyn Stewart’s crowd that let CPS get away with this mess in the first place. No wonder the politicians no longer take CTU seriously… 


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