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'Landslide is an understatement!'... Jay Rehak and Lois Ashford win re-election to Chicago Teachers Pension Fund trustees... The two will remain President and Vice President of the $10 billion CTPF

Jay Rehak and Lois Ashford, classroom teachers whose election to the Board of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund ignited what have become massive changes in the Chicago Teachers Union and the struggle for public schools in Chicago, were re-elected for an additional three-year term as teacher trustees to the $10 billion fund in the election held in all of the city's public schools on November 9, 2012. Rehak and Ashford had been challenged in the election fight by two teachers representing the coalition of two aging caucuses in the union, the UPC and PACT. The challengers were defeated decisively.

Lois Ashford and Jay Rehak (above) celebrated their re-election during a party at Chicago's Union Park Tap following the announcement of their victory in the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund re-election on November 9, 2012. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.When the election results were tallied by Election Services Corporation, hired by the CTPF, the results showed that Ashford and Rehak had been re-elected by what one observer calls a "crushing" margin. The results:

Lois Ashford, 7,385

Jay Rehak, 7,260

Mark Ochoa, 4,357

Kelly McFarlane, 4,198

The victors celebrated their win at a post-election party at the Union Park Tap following the announcement, with supporters who included many members of CORE, the Caucus of Rank and File Educators, which had backed their initial election and their re-election.

The election on November 9 culminated a two-month period of campaigning with Rehak and Ashford opposed by former CTU Financial Secretary Mark Ochoa, now a teacher at O'Toole Elementary School, and Kelly McFarlane, a teacher from Washington High School.

Supported by the United Progressive Caucus (UPC) and the Pro-Active Chicago Teachers (PACT), Ochoa and McFarlane issued a leaflet which was distributed by an email list that UPC members had stolen from the union before their President, Marilyn Stewart, had been unseated by Karen Lewis and CORE in 2010. The email mailing from the UPC/PACT alliance contained some of the most stunning lies ever told in a recent union election. Many teachers who received it asked CORE and Substance how their email addresses had been obtained for use in the election. No answer was forthcoming from UPC/PACT.

Chicago Teachers Pension Fund Vice President Lois Ashford (left), President Jay Rehak (center), and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis joined together in the victory celebration following the announcement of the victory on November 9. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Rehak and Ashford ran on their three-year record, which following the economic collapse of 2008 - 2009 showed some of the highest gains in the history of the pension fund. By 2011, after colleagues had defeated the remaining UPC trustees in elections in 2010 and 2011, Rehak and Ashford were elected President and Vice President of the CTPF.

The election was held under the auspices of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF.org), which is independent of the union and the Board of Education. The CTPF has regularly hired Election Services Corporation to conduct the elections, which are quickly counted using scanner technology. For 70 schools, electronic voting was used for the first time. Charter schools also employ teachers who are members of the pension fund, but the majority of those were apparently denied the right to vote by their administrators, who fear union organizers coming to the teachers in their anti-union schools. The majority of charter school teachers were denied the right to vote despite their membership in the pension fund.

Two observers (this reporter and CORE co-chairman Al Ramirez) watched the vote counting at CTPF. One member of the UPC PACT group, Linda Goff, was present at the beginning of the counting but left without waiting for the vote totals. Neither Ochoa nor McFarlane came to the pension fund offices during or after the counting. Nor did they designate observers, as CORE did.



Comments:

November 11, 2012 at 8:58 AM

By: Jay Rehak

Thanks! Now let's get ready for the attacks

I write in gratitude to my colleagues throughout the CPS system, who helped get Lois and I elected. We could not have won without the collective efforts of many people -- too many to list here.

I'm also grateful to those who may not have voted for j-Lo, but took the time to vote in this election. Our internal CTU and charter school democracies are strengthened by participation.

Mark Ochoa and Kelly McFarlane are also to be congratulated for stepping up and being willing to run for the Trustee position. Their willingness to run also strengthens the democratic process for all of the educators in Chicago.

Finally, there is no doubt he coming year is going to involve great struggle especially as it relates to legislative attacks on our pensions. We need to be ready to provide a united, collective response to those attacks. In the days ahead, let's turn our communal energies to protecting our retirement assets.

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