Chicago Teachers Union 'Big Bargaining Team' to meet Saturday morning, January 30, at CTU offices.... 'Messaging' spin has misled the public about the powers of the BBT versus the union's elected House of Delegates...

Substance was informed early on January 30, 2016 that the so-called "Big Bargaining Team" of the Chicago Teachers Union has been asked to be at a meeting at the union's Merchandise Mart offices at ten o'clock in the morning on Saturday, January 30, 2016. This meeting apparently replaces the meeting that was discussed with the media, scheduled to take place on Monday, February 1, 2016.

Although a number of celebrities and supportive officials were adjacent to Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis during the famous May 24, 2012 rally at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago, most of those on state sitting behind Lewis were members of the 2012 "Big Bargaining Team." Contrary to union democracy and the "rank and file" transparency that Lewis and the union's leaders preach, the selection of the "Big Bargaining Team" is done in secret by the union's leaders and the names of the members of the so-called "Big Bargaining Team" is not transparent. The members of the 800-member House of Delegates, on the other hand, are known and the HOD members are elected by union members in the schools. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.At least some people in the Chicago Teachers Union leadership have apparently taken to "messaging" false messages to the city corporate media about the selection, composition, power and role of the so-called "Big Bargaining Team" in Chicago Teachers Union contract negotiations. Although the members of the so-called "Big Bargaining Team" have been present at contract negotiations for the 2012 contract (the one which ended the 2012 strike) and the current negotiations (which began in 2015 and continue in January 2016), the legal bodies (under the CTU Constitution and By-Laws) that make decisions of the so-called "Tentative Agreement" (or TA) are actually

-- the CTU Executive Board

-- the CTU House of Delegates

-- the CTU membership

Nothing in the CTU rules and regulations (the union's Constitution and By-Laws) even mentions the so-called "Big Bargaining Team." Also, there is from one point of view nothing called a "TA" ("Tentative Agreement").

Historically and as of the present (January 2016), what the union negotiators bring back after negotiations is a "PTA" (a "Proposed Tentative Agreement"). This document, which can run to dozens of pages if there are significant changes in the existing contract, can only become an Agreement (contract) when it has been approved by a majority vote of the union's 28,000 members (minus the retiree members, who don't get to vote on strikes or contracts, also according to the CTU Constitution and By-Laws).

When the House of Delegates (of which this reporter is a member) meeting on Wednesday February 3, 2016, if CTU rules are followed, the agenda will include consideration of a "PTA." If the House votes in favor of the PTA, then a referendum will be held by the union's membership, voting in every school and other workplace. Only if the membership approves the PTA has the union "sealed a deal" and voted in favor of a contract.

Reports from "reliable sources" are being quoted in both major Chicago daily newspapers (the Sun-Times and Tribune) in both their print and on-line editions on January 30 2016. Obviously from the "messaging" being utilized in these stories, the union's negotiators and the Board's people -- both "off the record" -- are joining to push the PTA.

Spin, in other words. Or, as the CTU leadership has been calling it of late, "messaging."

No matter what the "messaging" however, the Chicago Teachers Union's House of Delegates, an elected body with representatives in every school, and the union's active duty members are the ones who get to decided whether (a) to recommend a PTA (the power of the House of Delegates) and (b) accept a contract (the power of a membership referendum).

[Disclosure: This reporter has been a CTU member for most of his working career since he first joined the union in May 1969 while working at Attucks Elementary School. I am presently also a CTU delegate for retiree members and a member of the union's Rules-Elections Committee].


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