CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION STRIKE 2016... Chicago Teachers Union delegates still waiting for 'Scab Whistles', bug juice, and other picket line necessities...

Flanked by strikers carrying "On STRIKE for out contract" signs, Chicago Teachers Union president Robert M. Healey addressed pickets during the October 1983 strike, which lasted 13 school days. Despite attempts by then Supt. Ruth Love to claim the strike was "racist" and against her "community" (the majority of students then were African American), the strike remained more than 95 percent strong into the third week. Contrary to some revisionist history from a faction in the CTU in the 21st Century, the union always had massive support from the community, ranging from strike centers hosted by mothers in the projects to regular support from union parents in union-heavy parts of Chicago. CTU photo.Like most Chicago homes where our children attend public schools, our home received the phone call on October 7 from an anonymous CPS voice (the latest in an endless and well paid stream of these, from the ever expanding "Communications Department") telling us to be ready for the strike which will begin on October 11. Two of our sons are in CPS schools (one at O.A. Thorp and one at Whitney Young HS). Both of their parents are CTU delegates.

Well, our family is ready in several ways, but we are also beginning here at Substance to monitor how the CTU is preparing the schools for the strike, which Forrest Claypool claims will be held at every one of the city's real public schools. That means picket lines early and up until ten in the morning (the last hour when scabs can sneak in).

Historically, the Chicago Teachers Union has put up picket lines at schools and at all other CPS offices during every strike since the first, which was in 1969. (My first picket line was during the 1971 strike, which took place during a snowy January; I am now a retiree and retiree delegate).

The main purpose of a union picket line is to ensure that the site that is on strike does not work. One of the main activities of strikers on the picket line is to identify scabs, the common union term for strikebreakers. Historically in Chicago's public schools, there have been few scabs, and even during the longest strike to date (1987), the number of scabs remained below three percent of the eligible workers. Anyone with any sense will tell you that you can't open a school -- let alone a school system -- with less that about 80 percent of your workers. So scabs are basically being given a few days, with pay.

In past strikes (the exception was 2012), every union delegate received a bag of "Scab Whistles" and every time anybody crossed the picket line, we all blew the whistles. Here are a few suggestions for strengthening picket lines in the coming weeks:

I shared this with the CORE list on October 7 and am sharing it to on October 8, 2016...

Brothers and Sisters...

As we add to the materials people need to plan and execute the longest strike in CTU history, here are a couple of additional suggestions. These are based on suggestions from the last times (early 1980s) that we had to picket at every school. Claypool and Jackson have announced that every school will be "open," but we'll know by the end of Week One whether that will remain true.

1. TIGHT PICKET LINES. The picket line has to bar everyone from entering the school. That means if you have to use the washroom, you can't use the one in your school. So everyone needs at least one "strike center" that's away from the school. Also, while CTU strikers need to document every scab who enters the school, it's a good idea to document every person going into the school (including "administration"). Principals have been known to honor picket lines in the past, and to disapprove of scabs (who will be disrupting their schools when everyone is back). So...

2. SCAB WHISTLES. Where are the strike whistles? We used to call them "Scab whistles..." and we blew them every time anyone -- ANYONE -- crossed our picket lines. Whistles are readily available in many stores, and it would be nice if the union also had a supply. These are also fun.

3. PARKING FOR STRIKERS. The Board of Education may declare that all CPS property is off limits to striking teachers. So... Plan alternative parking if your principal is going to be a jerk about this (historical fact: deals have been made if everyone is prudent).

4. NETWORK CHIEFS AND THEIR MINIONS ARE SCABS. As people know, the "Chief of Schools" (those in charge of the Networks) are the ones pushing to screw special education and force other nonsense down on to the schools. Where the principals are cowards (at many schools, like Steinmetz HS), they whimper that they have to do these evil things because of "higher authority." But in fact the Chiefs of Schools are not (necessarily) supervisors in the legal sense. So when the Network people arrive at your picket lines, treat them like scabs. They are every day, but this is the time to make it clear and photographically so.

5. SNACKS ON THE LINE. As the union leadership noted at Wednesday's HOD meeting, snacks and coffee are a good idea. During the long long 1987 strike, we have two cars designated for that purpose, one at each of the Lane Tech ("North Side high schools") picket line. Lane Tech had to be picketed on Addison St. and on Western Ave. The snack center was always open, with one person watching to make sure nothing unusual happened. Often, without us noting it, our younger pickets would serve snacks to the police officers who were forced to guard our lines.

6. PREPARING FOR REAL WEATHER. At times in the past we had to strike during winter weather. One of the best things to do is stock up on warm clothing, including a layer of cotton socks and a layer of woolen ones. Gloves, etc. also. Given the way the ruling class is preparing for this one, it's likely we will be walking the line in December, so now is the time to get some deals on the right clothing. Costco has provided us with really good socks for years, in all sizes. Etc.

7. BUG JUICE. If the wasps are still around when picketing begins, U.S. military insect repellant has several uses, including discouraging the critters. See #8 below for another use for this useful item. (I will be demonstrating both uses and more at a future meeting). 8. THE PRINCIPAL OF RECIPROCAL SACRIFICE. I was taught 45 years ago, during my first strike in January 1971, about the "Principal of reciprocal sacrifice." We enforced it during and after every strike against every scab. More about this later, but begin planning your "Reciprocal Sacrifice" team. These teams should be people who are solid union people and yet discreet, since the enforcement of reciprocal sacrifice sometimes requires extreme measures.

It's good that we are returning to the ethics of unions: An injury to one is an injury to all! -- NOT "contact the grievance department and maybe with a lot of approvals we might sort of do a grievance or a ULP maybe sometimes but may not whatever..."