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CORE membership urges 'Yes' vote on proposed CTU contract

After a lengthy discussion of what the strike and proposed contract mean both for the Chicago Teachers Union, for the public schools in general, and perhaps for the American labor movement, the largest CORE monthly membership meeting in recent memory voted almost unanimously to urge the union's 26,000 active-duty members to vote "Yes" on the proposed agreement in the October 2, 2012 referendum in the schools. CORE is the Caucus Of Rank and file Educators of the Chicago Teachers Union, the group which won power in the union after the tumultuous May and June 2012 union elections.

Prior to the vote to urge support for the proposed contract, CORE members rejected overwhelmingly a motion to resume the strike, which was suspended by the CTU House of Delegates on September 18 after seven days on the picket lines.

During the discussion of the proposed contract, virtually everyone speaking in favor of supporting the agreement noted that it was not perfect, but that in the context of the attacks on the CTU in Chicago and the general attacks on teacher unions across the USA, it was very good. Several CORE members pointed out problems in the proposed agreement, while others pointed to the advances that were won. Almost everyone agreed that the struggles within the city's more than 600 real public schools would continue under the terms of the new agreement. And virtually everyone agreed that the continuation of the struggles against school closings, the misuse of standardized testings, and other issues would grow in the coming year.

CORE members also expressed their commitment to the re-election of Jay Rehak and Lois Ashford to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF) and to building the LEAD dinner of the Chicago Teachers Union and the union's ability to do political action in Springfield.

More than 60 Chicago teachers, retired teachers, and other CORE members took part in the October 1 caucus meeting at Chicago's letter carriers union hall. Above, Debby Pope (standing right rear) can be seen addressing the group while co-chairs Nate Goldbaum (hand outstretched, left) and Al Ramirez (standing left) chair the meeting. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The note on the CORE website was as follows:

Vote YES on TENTATIVE AGREEMENT At today's CORE Membership meeting, the vote was virtually unanimous to endorse a vote of "Yes" to the tentative agreement negotiated out of the strike.

Members soberly recognized that this contract is not perfect, nor will it solve every problem our union and our profession faces. However, it is the best agreement we could win and does better than most any teachers union agreement around the country on salary, health care, rights on the job, and more. We need to solidify the unity we have developed in the strike and look forward to the coming battles.

At the meeting, members voted that the next steps for CORE will be to start a citywide campaign against school closures, a CORE membership drive (go to the CORE website to join), outreach to education activists nationwide, and defending our pensions — one major step toward which is the re-election of Jay Rehak and Lois Ashford to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund.



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