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Chicago Teachers Union election to be held May 17... It is a two-way race, incumbent CORE versus the 'Coalition to Save Our Union'

The Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates meeting on April 10, 2013, voted to certify the two slates that had submitted nominating petitions to run in the upcoming race for CTU offices in the May 17 union election. Different from the 2010 election (when in May 2010, there were five caucuses contending), the 2013 election will be held with only two caucuses contending. Nominating petitions with valid signatures were submitted only on behalf of the Caucus Of Rank and file Educators (CORE), led by the incumbent president, Karen Lewis, and the Coalition to Save Our Union, headed by Owens school counselor Tanya Saunders-Wolffe.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis (above, speaking at Chicago's Union Park at the rally on September 15, 2012, the Saturday after the fifth day of the seven day strike) will face challenger Tanya Saunders Wolffe in the May 17, 2013 CTU election. Substance photo by Kati Gilson.The Chicago Teachers Union elections are held on the third Friday of May, every third year. In order to qualify to be on the ballot, candidates or slates of candidates are required to get nominating petitions signed by at least five percent of the eligible voters for each office. With roughly 27,000 eligible voters for the citywide offices (officers, trustees, and area vice presidents), the two caucuses got the requisite signatures (roughly 1,350) on their petitions in time for the March deadline. The union's 3,000 retired teacher members are not eligible to vote in the main election, and elect one member of the union executive board in a special mail ballot election following the general election.

The 2013 election will be winner-take-all because there are only two slates. Union election rules require that candidates receive at least 50 percent of the vote, or a runoff has to be held. In 2010, the runoff was required when Karen Lewis and the CORE slate came in second, but former union president Marilyn Stewart's United Progressive Caucus (UPC) slate failed to achieve the necessary 50 percent of the vote in the May voting.

Karen Lewis and the CORE slate scored a decisive victory, receiving more than 60 percent of the vote in a June 2010 runoff.

The history of recent CTU elections is mixed. There were only two slates in the 2007 election, in which Marilyn Stewart and the United Progressive Caucus (UPC) handily defeated former union president Debbie Lynch's Pro Active Chicago Teacher (PACT) caucus.

In the hotly contested 2004 election, there were four slates in the May voting, and a runoff between the UPC and PACT saw the UPC returned to office after some controversial claims of vote manipulation. (Disclosure: this reporter served as vote count watcher for CORE in 2010 and is currently a member of the CORE steering committee and a CORE candidate for the convention delegates. Under Debbie Lynch he served as the union's director of school security and safety, focusing on the problems posed by the city's drug gangs in more than 100 schools).

At a drawing for ballot position held at the April 10, 2013 House of Delegates meeting, Tanya Saunder Wolffe drew second ballot position for her ‘Coalition to Save Our Union’ slate. The complex ballots offer all voters the opportunity to vote for a slate (this year, CORE and the Coalition to Save Our Union) or to mark for hundreds of possible individual choices.

In past elections, the majority of voters have voted for one slate or another, with few going along in each category to select individuals. Vote counts, however, are for individuals, and it is individuals who are being elected, despite the long tradition and power of the caucus system within the CTU. In addition to voting for the four officers, the union's members are electing the elected members of the union's executive board (three area vice presidents; six trustees; six high school vice presidents; 15 elementary vice presidents; one vice president for school clerks; two vice presidents for teacher assistants; one vice president for library assistants; one vice president for vision screening and audiometric technicians; and one vice president for school community representatives. In addition to the 38 elected executive board members (the above plus the retiree vice president, elected later by mail ballot), the union's executive board also consists of the chairmen and women of the union's eleven standing committees, all of whom are appointed by the union president.

Democracy in the CTU has a tradition going back more than 75 years, and it was within this democratic tradition that some politicians (most notably Rahm Emanuel) and media pundits became confused after the first week of the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012. Some acted and talked as if Karen Lewis could simply order “her people” off the picket lines and back to work. The confusion became clear over the weekend of September 14 – 16, when the union leaders noted that they had a “framework,” leading to some media speculation that the strike would be ended by Monday, September 17. The House of Delegates voted to take what information was available back to the picket lines on Monday, September 17, surprising many pundits and politicians unfamiliar with the union’s long democratic history. After discussion on the picket lines, the union’s delegates returned and met on September 18 and voted overwhelmingly to stop picketing while the members returned to work and reviewed the contract provisions (a 53-page document that was distributed to all members) prior to a referendum vote.

The May 2013 union election is in the same tradition of fierce CTU democracy.

The executive board meets at least once a month and has significant powers, among them setting the proposed agenda for the monthly meetings of the 800-member House of Delegates. The House of Delegates meets at least once a month and consists of teacher delegates elected from every school according to the number of teachers in the school (the first delegate for the first 20 teachers; an additional delegate for each 40 teacher members after that) and delegates elected from citywide groups that are not limited to any particular schools. Under the current leadership, since 2010 the size of the House of Delegates meetings has grown to where current meetings are usually attended by more than 700 voting delegates and dozens of visitors. Union members who are not delegates are allowed to attend union meetings as "visitors." Non union people are not permitted to attend union meetings without special permission.

The House of Delegates also voted that a debate between the two candidates for president will be held at the May House of Delegates meeting, and, with an amendment to that motion, that the candidates for vice president will also debate. Hence, Karen Lewis will be debating Tanya Saunders Wolffe and Jesse Sharkey will be debating Mark Ochoa. The union elects four officers each to serve a three-year term which begins on July 1 of the election year.

CORE CANDIDATES UNION OFFICERS IN THE MAY 17, 2013 ELECTION. The CORE candidates in the May 17 election for the top offices are:

President, Karen Lewis (incumbent president)

Vice President, Jesse Sharkey (incumbent vice president)

Recording Secretary, Michael Brunson (incumbent recording secretary)

Financial Secretary, Kristine Mayle (incumbent financial secretary). COALITION CANDIDATES UNION OFFICERS IN THE MAY 17, 2013 ELECTION. The candidates of the Coalition to Save Our Union are:

President, Tanya Saunders-Wolffe (Jesse Owens Community Academy)

Vice President, Mark Ochoa (Luke O’Toole Elementary School)

Recording Secretary, Mary Ellen Sanchez (Michael Byrne Elementary School)

Financial Secretary, Kelly McFarlane (Washington High School).

In addition to the four elected officers of the union (all of whom are by contract on leave from teaching jobs to work for the union full-time), the union elects nine other executive board members on a citywide basis, six trustees and three area officers.

CORE CANDIDATES FOR TRUSTEES IN THE MAY 17, 2013 ELECTION ARE:

Lois Ashford, O'Keefe Elementary School

Bernice Eshoo, Steinmetz High School

Brian Halberg, Kelly High School

Robert Maslanka, Lane Technical High School

Albert Ramirez, Ruiz Elementary School

Tammie Vinson, Emmett Elementary School

THE COALITION TO SAVE OUR UNION CANDIDATES FOR TRUSTEES IN THE MAY 17, 2013 ELECTION ARE:

Kevin Condon, Stevenson Elementary School

Frank MacDonald, Washington High School

Nancy Finn, Dawes Elementary School

Sharon Davis, Lee Elementary School

Linda Goff, Chappell Elementary School

Edna Otero, A. Jackson Elementary School

CORE CANDIDATES FOR AREA VICE PRESIDENTS IN THE MAY 17, 2013 ELECTION ARE:

Susan Garza, Addams Elementary School (Area A)

Patricia Boughton, Harlan High School (Area B)

James Cavallero (Chicago Academy High School (Area C)

THE COALITION TO SAVE OUR UNION CANDIDATES FOR AREA VICE PRESIDENTS IN THE MAY 17, 2013 ELECTION ARE:

Tanya Leiser, Hanson Park Elementary School (Area A)

Theres Boyle, Citywide Special Education (Area B)

Audrey Parsley, Citywide Special Education (Area C)

Each of the 13 citywide candidates required five percent of roughtly 27,000 eligible voters to get nominated.

Other executive board positions require five percent of the eligible voters for that office to get nominated, and a majority to be elected to the position. Although each candidate is running as an individual, the caucus system in the Chicago Teachers Union is a party system, and it has been more than 50 years since anyone was elected to a major union office without having affiliated with a caucus. There have been more than 20 political caucuses, large and small, in the union since the CTU won collective bargaining and ran its first strike during the 1960s.

The union elects what is called a “functional vice president” to represent members in each of the major “functional groups.” The groups are high school teachers, elementary teachers, school clerks, teacher assistants, library assistants, hearing and vision testers, and school community reps. A functional vice president is elected for each 1,000 members of the group.

THE CORE CANDIDATES FOR ‘HIGH SCHOOL FUNCTIONAL VICE PRESIDENT’ ARE:

Sean Barrett, Gage Park High School

W. Terrell Burgess, Westinghouse High School

Valerie M. Collins, Simeon Vocational High School

David Hernandez, Social Justice High School at Little Village HS

Jennifer L. Johnseon, Lincoln Park High School

Timothy Meegan, Roosevelt High School

THE ‘COALITION TO SAVE OUR UNION’ CANDIDATES FOR ‘HIGH SCHOOL FUNCTIONAL VICE PRESIDENT’ ARE:

David Arredondo, Washington High School

Lorette Balsam, Morgan Park High School

Victor Ciummo, Prosser Vocational High School

Queen Jackson, Gage Park High School

Victor Ochoa, Schurz High School

Nicole Vogwill, Curie High School

THE CORE CANDIDATES FOR ‘ELEMENTARY FUNCTIONAL VICE PRESIDENT’ ARE:

Carrene Beverly-Bass, Dvorak Elementary School

Kimberly Bowsky, Seward Elementary School

Finola Burrell, Bouchet Elementary School

Sarah Chambers, Saucedo Elementary School

Alexandra Gonzalez, Telpochalli Elementary School

Michelle Gunderson, Nettlehorst Elementary School

Paul Hartman, G. Armstrong Elementary School

Garth Liebhaber, Hammond Elementary School

Saria Lofton, City Wide Special Education

Patty Mitchell, Twain Elementary School

Maria T. Moreno, Citywide Special Ed

Margo T. Murray, Bontemps Elementary School

Cielo Munoz, Penn Elementary School

Moselean Parker, McKay Elementary School

Nathan Rasmussen, Beasley Elementary School

THE ‘COALITION TO SAVE OUR UNION’ CANDIDATES FOR ‘ELEMENTARY FUNCTIONAL VICE PRESIDENT’ ARE:

Diane Blaszczyk, Onahan Elementary School

Caryn Block, Haugan Elementary School

Kathleen Carey, Dawes Elementary School

Carmellie Childrey, Tanner Elementary School

Julie Cook, Nightingale Elementary School

Joanne Crist, Gresham Elementary School

Allan Cupicciotti, Galilelo Elementary School

Theresa Davis, Eberhart Elementary School

Christian Meenaghan, Franklin Elementary School

Christian Nze, Attucks Elementary School

Josefina Otero, A. Jackson Elementary School

Jacqueline Ramirez, Sullivan Elementary School

Susan Real, G. Washington Elementary School

Dawn Welch, Haley Elementary School

THE CORE CANDIDATE FOR ‘SCHOOL CLERK FUNCTIONAL VICE PRESIDENT’ IS:

Jose Jimenez, Wells High School

THE COALITION TO SAVE OUR UNION CANDIDATE FOR ‘SCHOOL CLERK FUNCTIONAL VICE PRESIDENT’ IS:

Marine Vazquez, Lee Elementary School

THE CORE CANDIDATES FOR ‘TEACHER ASSISTANT…’ FUNCTIONAL VICE PRESIDENT’ ARE:

Gloria Higgins, Hearst Elementary School

Lashawn Wallace, Taft High School

THE COALITION TO SAVE OUR UNION CANDIDATES FOR ‘TEACHER ASSISTANT…’ FUNCTIONAL VICE PRESIDENT’ ARE:

Myra Johnson, McKay Elementary School

Samantha Lancaster, Stockton Elementary School

THE CORE CANDIDATE FOR ‘LIBRARY ASSISTANT, etc.’ FUNCTIONAL VICE PRESIDENT’ IS:

Yvonne Heard, Hyde Park High School

THERE IS NO COALITION CANDIDATE FOR ‘LIBRARY ASSISTANT, etc.’ FUNCTIONAL VICE PRESIDENT’:

THE CORE CANDIDATE FOR ‘VISION SCREENING, ETC.’ FUNCTIONAL VICE PRESIDENT’ IS:

Gloria Prince, Office of Student Health Services

THE COALITION TO SAVE OUR UNION CANDIDATE FOR ‘VISION SCREENING etc…’ FUNCTIONAL VICE PRESIDENT’ IS:

Jane Hearrin, Office of Student Health Services

THE CORE CANDIDATE FOR ‘SCHOOL COMMUNITY REP, etc. FUNCTIONAL VICE PRESIDENT’ IS:

Eileen Lynch, Prosser Vocational High School

THERE IS NO COALITION CANDIDATE FOR ‘SCHOOL COMMUNITY REP, etc.’ FUNCTIONAL VICE PRESIDENT’.

Some candidates’ information was still being checked at press time. Additions may be made to the listings above.

TO BE CONTINUED WITH THE FULL LISTING OF AFT/IFT CONVENTION DELEGATES.



Comments:

April 12, 2013 at 6:39 AM

By: Bob Busch

CORE

C omplete

O ur

R enaissance

E veryone

That's how i see it:

April 12, 2013 at 7:59 PM

By: John Whitfield

Thanks, 'Coalition' -- but No Thanks!

It has been brought to my attention that my name, John Whitfield, has been listed as an AFT delegate under the 'Coalitoin to Save our Union' caucus. Thanks, but no thanks, as I have requested that it be taken off.

I also request that the union leadership not be spammed, as I noted that one of our union leaders was today, with a made up story about them.

That is sleazy, and scraping the bottom of the barrel. We're all brothers and sisters, and we damn well better treat each other that way.

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