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Chicago Teachers Union to elect officers in May 18 election... CTU race will have major impact on CPS future

When Marilyn Stewart, current president of the Chicago Teachers Union, refused an invitation from Catalyst magazine to appear in a debate with her opponent Deborah Lynch, there was little outcry from the rank-and-file members of the Chciago Teachers Union. Most of them didn’t even know that the invitation had been extended, let alone that Stewart had declined, without giving any reason.

But Stewart’s refusal to debate the issues as April turned to May and the crucial election (to be held May 18) loomed was part of a strategy that was being followed by Stewart’s United Progressive Caucus (UPC) to win the vote count and retain control of the union by avoiding the major issues and confining their political campaigning to situations completely under their own control.

After the April meeting of the union’s House of Delegates, the union’s members were informed that the May 18 voting would pit former CTU President Deborah Lynch, currently a special education teacher at Gage Park High School, against Stewart, who served as a special education teacher at Kinzie Elementary School until her 2001 victory over ousted Lynch from the union presidency. Lynch’s PACT (Pro Active Chicago Teachers) caucus had ousted the UPC three years earlier, in a hotly contested election in May 2001. CTU elects its officers and executive board members every three years.

Stewart’s campaign against Lynch began virtually the day Stewart took office at the union’s spacious Merchandise Mart headquarters after a dramatic runoff election in June 2004 and vote challenges that lasted throughout July 2004.

In June 2005, Stewart’s lieutenants attempted to have Lynch arrested at a union meeting (see Substance, September 2005, at www.substance news.com).

The UPC strategy has been to utilize every mechanism of the union to promote their candidates, while constantly claiming that every problem in the schools is the fault of Lynch. Stewart has refused to speak with Substance or be interviewed by Substance despite a standing request since she took office (also documented on the website). 



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