Chicago Teachers Union slow in reporting results of election endorsements approved -- or rejected -- at the January 14, 2015 House of Delegates meeting

Several major changes were made by the union's House of Delegates to the list of candidates receiving the CTU endorsement, but the public was still awaiting the news as the day after the meeting passed. As I write this, it's noon on January 15, 2015, almost 24 hours after the end of a tumultuous meeting of the 800-member Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates (of which this reporter is an active member). The official union website still hasn't reported the unusual results of the final debates in the union over endorsements in the upcoming mayoral elections. And the endorsements (along with the money and other support from the union) were the final result of months of democratic back-and-forth in the 28,00-member union.

Lindblom High School physics teacher Ed Hershey (above at the Monday January 12 CORE meeting) was one of the candidates endorsed by a vote of the House of Delegates of the CTU on January 14, despite the fact that the union's official "Political Action" committee had not recommended an endorsement for his candidacy. Hershey was one of several changes made during a fiercely democratic debate at the House of Delegates in mid-January and now moves into the final days of his race for alderman of the 25th Ward with union support. Substance photo by Bob Simpson.As delegates are reporting to their schools across the city today and tomorrow (the union asks its delegates to hold union meetings at least once a month, and those are usually held following the HOD meetings), the union still hasn't published the official results of the votes of the House of Delegates on the final round of endorsements for candidates for alderman in several of the city's wards. And since the House of Delegates made some major changes to the recommendations of the union's leadership during the January 14 meeting, most of the delegates would be more secure in their reports if the final and official list of those endorsed by the union were published at the union's official web site.

As of this writing, it is 12:34 p.m. on January 15, 2015 (updated at 7:58 p.m. the same day). If nothing has been reported officially by the union by the time 24 hours have passed since the end of the meeting, we will expand our Substance reporting on what actually happened. Accuracy is important, even when "outcomes" don't always please some people.

Despite the fact that her candidacy had not received a recommendation of support from the union's "PAC - LEG" committee, Zerlina Smith was endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union for alderman in the 29th Ward against the incumbent Deborah Graham. The endorsement came after a floor fight at the January 14 House of Delegates meeting. Above, Smith stands with Sarah Chambers, a teacher at Saucedo Elementary School (and CORE co-chair) during the CORE January 12 meeting. Smith, a parent whose daughter attend Saucedo, was one of the strongest supporters of Sarah Chambers during the 2014 Opt Out and test boycott struggles. Substance photo by Bob Simpson.One of the problems that arose during the months of slating candidates was that some people in the union leadership added "electability" (in their opinion) to the union committee's criteria. As a result, some candidates who were rejected by the delegates were reviewed favorably by the so-called "PAC - LEG" committee (Political Action and Legislative) of the union. Others, who had done union work for years were left behind, supposedly because they didn't fulfill a criteria of "electability". (Note: supposed "electability" was never a criteria for endorsement that had been submitted or approved by the House of Delegates, but began appearing in the materials distributed by "PAC - LEG" since the controversial LEAD dinner on October 31, 2014).

The discussions at the House of Delegates meeting on January 14 corrected many of those problems, and led the way to discussion in the future about how to handle the many challenges that arise when the union adds municipal elections to others for its political action work and funding.

The first major debate took place because PAC LEG was recommending that the union support Patrick Daley-Thompson, nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley. The opposition to the endorsement of Daley-Thompson for alderman from the 11th ward was opposed fiercely during a floor debate, and the proposed endorsement was rejected by a majority vote. Later, the House of Delegates voted to endorse Maureen Sullivan, who is running against Daley-Thompson in the 11th Ward.

The House also rejected another proposed endorsement from "PAC - LEG."

Later, the union debate took place as delegate proposed endorsements from the floor. Despite the fact that the chairman of the meeting allowed the union's legislative director to "motivate" the meeting with a lengthy description of how hard the "PAC LEG" people worked, the delegates voted to endorse three candidates who had been left out by "PAC - LEG" --

Maureen Sullivan in the 11th Ward.

Ed Hershey in the 25 Ward.

Zerlina Smith in the 29th Ward.

As of bed time on January 15, 2015, the Chicago Teachers Union had not yet provided the union's delegates and members with a complete list of candidates endorsed by the union in the February 24, 2015 municipal election. If nothing appears tomorrow, will be updating the complete list, from the CTU mayoral endorsement through each of the ward fights.

Anyone who wants to get the current updates from the union's website can go to


January 15, 2015 at 8:40 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

'Motivating' or manipulating?

One of the things I challenged during the fierce debates over the political action proposals at the House of Delegates meeting was when the president turned the podium over to Stacy Davis-Gates to supposedly "motivate" the debate on the PAC recommendations. I was very clear on this -- that this was entering into the debate and should be out of order. If an officer, including the president, or a staff member, and this includes the Legislative Director, wants to enter into the debate, that person should line up at a microphone and speak under the same rules as are applied to all the delegates.

I was overruled by Jesse Sharkey, and the House was treated to more than ten minutes of "motivation" that basically talked about how hard the members of the so-called "PAC-LEG" committee (note: the union has a PAC committee and a legislative committee; there is no such thing as "PAC-LEG") had worked and because of all that hard work the House of Delegates should simply rubber stamp that work (as the Executive Board had apparently done earlier).

As it turned out, the House of Delegates became fiercely democratic (small d) and rejected two of the "PAC-LEG" recommendations, than endorsed four candidates who had been rejected by "PAC-LEG." I had had a medical procedure earlier in the day (as a retiree delegate, you might say I'm in line with our "demographic") and was unable to remain for the rest of the debates and for the Connies Pizza afterwards. As it was I was almost unable to stand in line at the microphone, leaning on my cane, during the "motivation" that had been approved by the President.

Obviously things have got to be dealt with now that last night's work has been completed (but not yet communicated to the union's members, except here). Once the municipal elections are over, the focus of the union has to be on the Legislative committee and our legislative work in Springfield. I have already asked that we be given the language of the legislation CTU is supporting for two major legislations --- the Chicago elected school board (notice I am not playing that ERSP game; it's a real loser) and the appeal of the Amendatory Act (prior to when our contract expires, which is June 30).

Political Action (PAC) and Legislation (LEG) have always been separate committees, and for good reason. One of the things that has to be challenged now that this strange era is drawing to a close is the whole notion of a "PAC - LEG" and also the idea that the leadership, from the stage at the House of Delegates meeting, can manipulate (under the guise of "motivating") the debate while some of us have to stand in a line at a microphone for a lengthy over and over and over "motivation."

January 16, 2015 at 6:53 PM

By: Keith Plum


Thank you for speaking up, George! I'm putting this recent speech right up there with the one we were subjected to right before we voted to support Chuy.

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