Next major election Friday, when Jay Rehak and Lois Ashford are up for re-election to Chicago Teachers Pension Fund

CORE and other major groups of Chicago teachers are urging active duty teachers to re-elect Lois Ashford and Jay Rehak to a second term as trustees in the election to be held this Friday, November 9, 2012. Chicago teachers move from the national (and other) elections of 2012 on November 6, 2012 to another important election, the election for teacher trustees to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF). The pension election is being held on November 9 2012. All teachers who are members of the pension fund, including charter school teachers, are eligible to vote.

Since their election to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF) trustees in October 2009, Lois Ashford (above left) and Jay Rehak (above second from left) have represented active duty teachers in the complex work of overseeing the fund. Above, at the October 2012 meeting of the trustees, Ashford and Rehak listen to a presentation on the implications of changes in Moody's ratings for the fund. Rehak is currently President of the trustees; Ashford is Vicre President. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Jay Rehak and Lois Ashford were first elected pension trustees in October 2009, when they ran against incumbents who had been supported by the United Progressive Caucus. Rehak and Ashford were endorsed at the time by CORE, which went on to support them to victory and then move on to win the general union elections in May and June 2010.

Rehak and Ashford have received the support of CORE, the executive board of the Chicago Teachers Union, and hundreds of rank and file CTU activists. They are now serving as President and Vice President of the fund.

Rehak and Ashford have made videos explaining their candidacy:

The 2009 election of the two teachers signaled a slow change in the elected leadership of the CTPF. In 2010, teachers elected Jeff Blackwell and Jeanne Freed, who also unseated incumbents. IN 2011, teachers elected Ray Wohm and Tina Padilla, who also ousted incumbents despite an attempt by former trustee Maria Rodriguez to retain her seat although she had retired from her job with the Chicago Teachers Union in June 2011 (Rodriguez was holding an elected "teacher" seat because she was a teacher on leave, working for the union.

After the 2011 election, a majority of the trustees elected Ashford Vice President and Rehak President of the fund. Both continue working as classroom teachers, as do Blackwell, Freed, Padilla and Wohl.

During the three years since Ashford and Rehak were elected, the fund has managed to survive a couple of major problems and work to strengthen itself despite the loss of $1.2 billion in contributions from the Board of Education. Under the previous union leaders (which also had supported the ousted incumbents), Marilyn Stewart and the United Progressive Caucus (UPC), the union had looked the other way while a number of major pieces of legislation were pushed through the Illinois General Assembly, In January 2010, the PERA law was passed, requiring "performance" evaluations of teachers. In April 2012, former CPS CEO Ron Huberman persuaded the President of the Illinois Senate, John Cullerton, that schools wouldn't be able to open in September 2010 unless CPS received the $1.2 billion "pension holiday." Karen Lewis and the CORE slate were elected to the top offices and majority of the executive board seats in the CTU in a June 2010 runoff election and took office on July 1, 2010.

The ability of the pension trustees under the leadersip of Ashford and Rehak to begin to roll back some of the losses caused by the previous group has been considerable. Patronage in pension investments (most notably, the "D.V. Urban" error) and reckless management of some fund assets (a lawsuit is pending against Northern Trust) were among the many achievements that the new group of trustees has accomplished.

The November 9 election will be held in all Chicago public schools where teachers are members of the pension fund. Eligible voters (only teachers can vote for these offices) can also vote at the CTPF offices. Consult the CTPF website for additional information. 


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