CTU delegates vote to end srike

After receiving lengthy reports from each of the union's four officers and from the union's attorney, the members of the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates voted by a large majority to suspend the seven-day-old Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012. The teachers and other school workers who have been on strike will be back in their classrooms at the city's more than 600 real public schools by nine o'clock in the morning on September 19, 2012, ending, for a time at least, the first strike called by the CTU in a quarter century.

The meeting was held according to the traditional structure for the House of Delegates. Each of the officers reported to the members of the House, who stretched, standing room only, from wall to wall in the cavernous hall.

The first report was from Recording Secretary Michael Brunson, who reminded the delegates that the union's officers, attorneys, and "Big Bargaining Team" has begun negotiating in November 2011, but that it was only after the May 23 rallies and march that CPS officials even began paying attention to the union's demands. Following the strike authorization vote of June 6 - 8, some aspects of the negotiations improved, but not many. Brunson pointed out that the majority of the people on the Board's side of the table during the negotiations came from corporate America and had no knowledge of teaching or learning in the real public schools of Chicago.

CTU Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle (above right) detailed much of the agreement, which stretches to 188 pages in printed form, for the delegates. During her presentation, all of the delegates receive a 14-page summary of the proposed new contract, which she went through article by article (the entire contract has 49 articles). Her presentation noted that that Board had tried to gut the entire contract throughout most of the ten months of negotiations, retreating from many of their most serious demands only after the strike threat became credible (following the June 6 - 8 referendum and the strike, which began September 10). At the main table with Ms. Mayle above are (left to right) recording secretary Michael Brunson, Vice President Jesse Sharky, and President Karen Loews. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The longest report came from Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle, who walked the delegates through all 49 Articles of the contract. For the first time, Mayle told the delegates, holding up a loose leaf binder, the union's officers and attorneys had the full 200 pages that had been negotiated. A summary of the changes in the contract was distributed to the delegates.

During the financial secretary's report, it became increasingly clear to delegates that significant changes had been made in the processes that the union would be able to implement inside the schools once the contract was in place. These ranged from increasing powers to the Professional Problems Committee (PPC) to the now-famous "anti-bullying" clause of the Agreement (which was later read in full to the delegates by President Karen Lewis).

One major focus of Kristine Mayle's report was the changes that were made in special education and clinicians sections of the contract. She is a former special education teacher whose award winning school (De La Cruz Middle) was closed down at the end of the Arne Duncan era and given briefly to a charter school (a fight that helped promoted her union activism and work with CORE). She noted that the union had secured many changes in special education procedures that will enable teachers and others helping children with special needs, Numerous teachers were noting that the city's charter schools simply exclude the most needy students with disabilities, then proclaim their superiority over the real public schools that must serve those children.

While there was a lengthy narrative of the changes to improve services for children with disabilities, one of those that stuck out for veteran teachers was that for the first time in the contract, special education teachers will not be required to perform duties outside their assigned duties. For decades, CPS officials have utilized some special services teachers as if they were substitutes to be worked at the whim of the principals.

Most of the report given by Vice President Jesse Sharkey (above at podium; Karen Lewis is listening on the left) was devoted to a brief history of American (and Chicago) labor unions. Noting that some struggles for union contracts can stretch for years (e.g., the Congress Hotel strike in Chicago, which is now in its seventh year) or prove extremely violent (noting the "Memorial Day Massacre" which took place during the "Little Steel" organizing by the Congress of Industrial Organizations in the 1930s, Sharkey reminded the delegates that the strength of the union was in the schools, where every member had to be vigilant in enforcing the contact. The 2012 contract would make the union stronger than it has been inside the schools in a quarter century. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Jesse Sharkey, CTU vice president and a former history teacher (Senn High School) treated the delegates to a brief history of American unions and place the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 in that context. He reminded the delegates that every contract results in compromises and that unions cannot strike forever, pointing out that the proposed contract makes the union members much more powerful in the schools.

More than 20 TV trucks and more than 50 reporters waited impatiently outside the House of Delegates meeting until the vote was taken. Once the delegates began leaving, they were swarmed by reporters trying to get first responses after it was announced that the strike had been suspended. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.After the lengthy reports which covered every article of the new contract, questions began, with more than 70 delegates lined up at four microphones in the huge hall. Once again, the meeting was standing-room-only.

But the questions had barely begun when the associate delegate from Steinmetz High School, Sharon Schmidt (Substance editor) asked if a motion were in order. When Karen Lewis responded that it was, Schmidt read from the agenda proposed by the leadership: "The Officers recommend that the Chicago Teachers Union suspend the ongoing strike at the close of this House of Delegates meeting. The strike, picketing, and job actions will cease, and Chicago Teachers Union members will return to work on Wednesday, September 19, 2012."

Earlier in the meeting, the delegates were told that CPS Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard (who did not take part in any of the more than 70 negotiating sessions, despite the fact that his annual salary is $250,000, the highest of any public school official in Chicago history) will speak at Trinity United Church, 400 W. 95th Street at 7 PM on Wednesday, September 19, 2012. The teachers were told that Rev. Moss, the pastor of the church, would like to see a sea of red shirts (CTU members) there to ask CEO JC Brizard questions.

Within a few hours after the meeting had adjourned, delegates and leaders of CORE began answering questions about what the contract fight and the strike had "won". According to an email from Sarah Chambers, a teacher and member of the CORE steering committee:

What we won for the kids in this contract:

1) Books on day 1

2) Private rooms for clinicians and security for the kids' files

3) Subs to help students while teachers are testing 1 on 1 or while testing students with modifications and accommodations.

4) Reduced emphasis on standardized testing because merit pay was removed.

5) Reinstated class size article and added that the class size committee with have an LSC member

6) Fewer missed instruction with special education students because IEP meetings can be before and after school

7) Recess

8) Added art, music and world language positions open

9) Potentially more clinicians and social workers when money is available.

10) More stability for students moving to new schools from closed schools because teachers from the closed schools when receive top priority in open positions at the new schools.

11) More resources for the students, since supply money has increased to $250.

12) More preparation time designated to planning instruction since paperwork is reduced.

13) More security for good experienced teachers.

14) Increase in diversity of teaching staff

15) Potentially class size reductions for special education

16) Potentially reduction in class size in library due to lack of tables and seats.

Sarah Chambers


September 19, 2012 at 3:44 AM

By: Stephen Lendman

Strike ends in unconditional surrender

Unconditional surrender, pure and simple!!

Corrupt city and union bosses won. Teachers, parents and kids lost.

September 19, 2012 at 7:52 AM

By: Rod Estvan

Very disturbing

Since according to the article the leadership has the full language of the proposed contract it should have been given to the members of the House. In fact a pdf of the proposed language should have been sent out before the meeting. If the contract does not contain a re-opener allowing for an immediate strike in the situation of CPS revoking either raises or other major terms of the contract due to the failure of CPS to appropriate funds you all will become jailed by your own contract. If a re-opener is included then Stephen Lendman's post above is questionable.

State law prohibits CPS from spending money which is not appropriated regardless of contracts, hence they retain the right to revoke any and all contracts.

Rod Estvan

September 19, 2012 at 8:18 AM

By: Rod Estvan

One more thing

The summary given to delegates states that there is language prohibiting CPS from not appropriating funds for raises. Members should read the actual language very carefully. Because state law will not allow CPS to spend what it does not appropriate. Therefore, for such a provision to be binding it must establish payments to teachers as being backed by the full faith and credit of the Board just like it does its bonds. Bond payments are not subject to appropriation, CPS must declare bankruptcy in order to get out of them.

Rod Estvan

September 19, 2012 at 2:43 PM

By: Larry MacDonald

Strike ends in Orderly Retreat.

The Union is stronger. Morale is high.The losses were less than expected. We left no one behind, trimmed our uniforms and marched proudly into camp. Now the work begins.

Teachers, delegates, PPC and union staff have to enforce this agreement. We cannot let the board backslide.

Congratulations a job well done.

P.S. With surrender and retreat in the air can we talk Court Marshall? How about DICK DURBIN for his anti-teacher and anti-union remarks over the weekend they bordered on treason for this lifelong Democrat. With friends like that...

September 19, 2012 at 5:09 PM

By: Anthony Smith

Rahm's new commercial and moving forward...

I thoroughly enjoyed Rahm's new commercial where he basically takes credit for ending the strike, getting the best deal possible for parents and students, and ending poverty and injustice!

I have to give the guy credit, he knows how to play the game and he plays it well, very well indeed.

I don't want to dwell on the delegates being told at their meeting that we got all that we can get and we need to end the strike now, but it makes me wonder?

Randi Weingarten apparently has been in Chicago quite a bit. Helping us? NO

Helping Rahm Emanuel. Now isn't that interesting...

So we need to OUT those Democrats who either were silent or were against us. And we need to support those who were with us, the few aldermen and Jan Schakowsky for sure. I don't believe the list is long.

And we need to get the word out that we do not get SOCIAL SECURITY, as many of the parents I spoke to the past week did not know this! They felt bad about that.

We need to put ads in the newspapers, all of them, either on the same day to get maximum coverage, even on tv. or week by week. We need to hammer this home in advance of the onslaught that is our looming Pension takeaway.

We need to have discussions on tv shows, as many as possible, and on CNN and MSNBC to let them know that we have had our pension stolen from us by POLITICIANS who now want to blame us for it and make sure we don't have one.

So I would work until the day I die, except the school closings that are coming are likely to shorten my work lifespan as a teacher in CPS. And the evaluation by the principal, who is ultimately responsible to Rahm, shortens that even more.

I do a good job washing dishes,

anyone have a decent card board box

that I might use to live in?

September 19, 2012 at 6:33 PM

By: Bob Busch

Old Dogs, New Teachers, and a clueless corporate media

The last couple of weeks have y soothed my cynical nature. There just might be hope for the future. if anybody cares her is my take on what just went down:

Our job action took on a life of its own. It went from a strike to an uprising. Then morphed again by virtue of the first House action to what can now be rightfully called “The Chicago Renaissance”.

The mayor got bitch slapped by a court system close as a Siamese twin to the Democratic party. When Rahm came for his injunction and the judge told him to take a cold tatter and wait. Tt was a political insult beyond belief. No sitting judge beholden to a political party for his survival would even conceive of doing that to a politician that mattered. The mayor better pay attrition to his political six.

Us old goats can bitch all we want about the FNGs. They hey were magnificent. All those twenty something strikers changed the face of education in this city.

The media stands to be the biggest losers of all. The story was not the strike. It was the street. They lost the crisis angle because it was a crusade for the hearts and minds of a city. The media was, completely bewildered, in the face of our new union leadership, I don’t think they knew what to report.

September 20, 2012 at 11:53 PM

By: Jack Burger

Strike gains

Way to go CTU. You united the people with your united leadership. You reached out broadly and involved the people in your fight-they saw it as theirs. You took on the boss and spanked the little boy-one term mayor as he is. You came out the other side of a difficult fight in a good spot, united. The education movement expanded and gained. I support ya'll. I applaud you. Go CTU! Thank you for inspiring Chicago and the country!

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