Karen Lewis and CORE slate re-elected in landslide in Chicago Teachers Union election.... Margin for President of the CTU is 12,316 to 3,291

The members of the Chicago Teachers Union voted decisively on May 17, 2013 to re-elect incumbent president Karen Lewis, her fellow officers, and the entire slate of CORE, the Caucus Of Rank-and-file Educators, to three-year terms in the leadership of the third-largest K-12 teacher union local in the USA. The vote count as of ten p.m. showed a victory margin of nearly 80 percent for CORE versus the other group, which called itself the "Coalition To Save Our Union". The vote for president with 99 percent of the votes tallied was 12,316 to 3,291.

The four incumbent officers at the top of the CORE slate were re-elected to lead the Chicago Teachers Union in the May 17, 2013 election. Left to right above: Kristine Mayle (Financial Secretary), Karen Lewis (President), Michael Brunson (Recording Secretary), and Jesse Sharkey (Vice President). Substance photo by Howard Heath. After a months' long election campaign which saw Lewis's opponents get preferential treatment (including a front page news story) from the Chicago Tribune, the voting took place in all of the city's real public schools on the morning of May 17. Some of the voters in the 30,000-member union voted by mail ballot. The union's 3,400 retiree members (which includes this reporter) so not vote in general union elections).

In a press release issued late on the night of May 17, the Chicago Teachers Union stated: "National Board Certified teacher Karen GJ Lewis has retained her position as president of the Chicago Teachers Union, according to unofficial, preliminary results from today’s election, receiving an overwhelming 80 percent of the votes. In addition, the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) has also retained the remaining officer positions including Jesse Sharkey as vice president, Michael Brunson as recording secretary and Kristine Mayle as financial secretary. The slate also won all of its executive board and convention delegates."

The second term for the four officers begins July 1 and will last three years. The CORE candidates defeated the "Coalition to Save Our Union" for in all of its executive board and other positions. Over 26,000 CTU members, including teachers, paraprofessionals, school clinicians were eligible to vote in the election. Retired teachers do not vote in citywide elections or on contracts or strikes under the union's constitution and by-laws.

"The election was administrated by the American Arbitration Association ("Triple A")," the union statement continued, "and was monitored by the union’s Rules & Election Committee as well as observers representing both caucuses. The final, audited vote totals will be released later in the week."

While more than 100 CORE members awaited the election results at Reggie's on South State St., there were many toasts and celebrations. CORE co-chairman Nate Goldbaum used the occasion to read a poem and then to propose marriage to fellow teacher Kim Bowsky. Kim said "Yes." Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Under the complex democratic procedures of the union, the voting was also for three "area vice presidents," six trustees, six "high school vice presidents," 17 elementary vice presidents, and vice presidents representing school clerks, teacher assistant, school nurses, and vision and audiometric technicians. The union's members were also electing 150 delegates to the state convention of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the national convention of the American Federation of Teachers.

The union elections are held under the union's by-laws, supervised by the financial secretary and the Rules-Electoins committee (of which this reporter is a member). Since the beginning of the 21st Century, the union has hired the American Arbitration Association to conduct the actual vote distribution and counting. Prior to that, the Rules-Elections committee conducted the counting, and widespread suspicions abounded. For the 2013 election, the AAA provided an independent group to handle the vote distribution, collection and counting. The counting took place at the headquarters of the Operating Engineers Union on S. Grove St. The union officers waited at the union offices for the official count, while a growing number of CORE members assembled at Reggie's on South State Street for what most knew would be a victory party.

Flanked by Vice President Jesse Sharkey and Recording Secretary Michael Brunson and elated supporters, Karen Lewis, who had been re-elected President of the Chicago Teachers Union in a May 17, 2013 landslide, thanks her supporters at Reggie's after the vote totals were announced. Substance photo by Kati Gilson.The confidence of CORE was based on the fact that the union leadership under Karen Lewis had led the nation's third largest K-12 teacher union during perilous times and had negotiated a difficult contract during months that included the seven day Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012. But CORE took nothing for granted. A rank-and-file organizing team was assembled under elementary school teacher Sarah Chambers. The caucus met weekly, and during the final week more than 50,000 pieces of literature, including palm cards and buttons, were distributed "Chicago Style" in all of the city's public schools. By the time of the voting and the May 17 party, CORE members were already declaring the election materials "collectibles" and asking the coordinators and candidates to sign various materials.

The union rules require that the union publish the school-by-school breakdown of the voting for all candidates. Because voters can either vote for a "slate" (CORE or the "Coalition") or for individual candidates, the iteration of the final vote totals will be extensive.


May 18, 2013 at 12:07 PM

By: Jay Rehak

Great Victory

Huge victory for the teachers of Chicago and the rest of the nation. We are showing the country what full throated Democracy looks like. Enough of the privatization of our public assets. Let's all protect our community's schools. The CTU, working with community groups, can save the City from the privateers and profiteers who would buy or lease our communal assets at bargain basement prices. I congratulate President Lewis and all of her slate for a victory hard and well won.

May 20, 2013 at 8:23 PM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

CORE victorious

This victory of CORE shows teachers and other personnel, as well as parents and the public, to be united in the face of the many attacks on Chicagoans by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the others of his ilk. No doubt he and the others were hoping for the historically more accomodationist caucuses to win.

I appreciated getting the vote totals in this article. The Coalition of "Saviors" was righteously and deservedly trounced.

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