A major dose of democracy now stands between CTU members and the contract they're being offered...'Not Again!' Chicago Teachers Union members begin planning protests against what more and more are calling 'The Second Karen Lewis sellout...'

No sooner had the word begun to circulate on social media around midnight on October 10 - 11, 2016 than the protests also began to grow. And by the time that members of the 28,000-member Chicago Teachers Union were able to read the first PDF format summary (eight pages) of the proposed agreement that headed off a strike which would have begun at midnight, plans were being made to protest at the two meetings that must be held before the union agrees to a contract:

-- A meeting of the elected members of the (roughly) 800-member House of Delegates, which represents union members in every one of Chicago's more than 500 real public schools. By union law, the House of Delegates reviews a proposed contract and then makes a recommendation to the membership prior to a citywide membership vote, and

-- Meetings in every school which will precede any vote on the contract that will (or will not) make the proposed deal final. By union law (the union's Constitution and By-Laws), no contract is final until it has been ratified by a majority vote of the members in the schools (and other workplaces).

[Disclosure: This reporter is a member of the House of Delegates, representing retired teachers, who are barred by union law from voting on contracts and strike. Two of his sons attend Chicago's public schools, and his wife is union delegate for Steinmetz High School].

As of early October 11, the union's leadership still had not scheduled a meeting of the House of Delegates, one of the two steps required before the union actually has a done deal. As of early October 11, the only thing the last minute proposal, widely reported (and hailed) in the press, had done was stop the union's members from striking the nation's third largest school system beginning October 11, 2016.

Should the union's members eventually reject the proposed deal, it doesn't automatically put everyone back on the picket line. In the past, a rejection of a proposed contract (which last happened when Deborah Lynch was CTU president in September 2003) sends the union's leaders back to the bargaining table. Another strike date would presumably have to be set.

Despite sometimes emotional defenses of the vote to accept the proposed contract and push the union's members into the deal, by early October 11, as people began studying the eight-page PDF outlining the deal, it was clear that the deal was in trouble. And in the context of the trouble, more and more members were asking by what authority in the union's own laws had the current CTU leadership unilaterally inserted an entity called the "Big Bargaining Team" (all appointed by CTU President Karen Lewis) between the legal responsibility of the House of Delegates and the final legal power of the union's rank and file members.

And aside from a few shrill posts on Facebook and some hurt feelings on the internal email system of CORE (the Caucus of Rank and File Educators, which has been leading the union since winning the June 2010 CTU election), the union's leaders and the members of the Big Bargaining Team were unable to answer the questions raised by so many controversial -- if not odious -- parts to what has so far been seen of the deal. [Additional disclosure: This reporter was founding member of CORE, served two terms on the 13-member CORE steering committee, and is currently still and active member of CORE].


The House of Delegates must meet, although that has not been made clear to the membership in official CTU notifications as of noon on October 11, and

The union's members must be provided with the entire proposed contract -- and all side deals, some of which were not made clear at the time the union settled the September 2012 strike -- so that they can discuss, debate and then vote on the contract.

If the contract is eventually ratified, it will bind the union's members to its terms until June 30, 2019.


October 11, 2016 at 1:41 PM

By: Susan Hickey, LCSW

Clinicians are thrown under the bus!

I was taken off the big bargaining team recently and the two clinician members did a valiant job to have our workload issues kept on the bargaining table. but the BBT voted it down- including Maria Moreno (speech pathologist before becoming Financial Secretary). We have no workload protections. Nurse private contracts will be vetted with CTU BUT the other clinician groups have NO protection to being privatized. There was no protection for librarians either!

Catalyst has called out this lack of adding social workers on Twitter which is more than I can say for the CTU leadership!.

I was told a few weeks ago I was taken off the bargaining team because I retired (even though all of last year I was retired but still was on the team). I was told in early February by Jackson Potter that it was felt I could not be trusted!

October 11, 2016 at 8:54 PM

By: Jo-Anne cairo

Sell Out

Why was there such a production about having a strike? When it never was going to happen. Teachers better read the contract and not depend on the guiding words of their delegates because it's obvious the buses are ready to roll over the teachers and those who were trusted are driving them.

October 11, 2016 at 10:08 PM

By: George Cruz

Lewis Betrayal!!!

I have read the entire contractual changes and am greatly disappointed .

1. No economic layoff clause, taken out so cps can pay for the contract by firing veteran expensive teachers and end paying their pension pickup . If cps gets the 1500 teachers to retire , by 2019 at the end of the contract you will have thousands of new hires who will feel their union sold them out.

2. There is no language in the contract with guaranteed TIF funding of CPS. Even Lewis didn't know how much money Rahm was handing over. Again this forces cps to balance their budget and encourage layoffs of expensive teachers.

3. No changes in REACH cut scores , which again principals will go after more expensive teachers and force them out all because of student based budgeting

4. No raises in year one or two and no restoration of lost pay from last years furlough days

5. Where is the support and language to hire new librarians , nurses, social workers etc?

This is only the beginning of the setbacks included in the contract ! I'm extremely disappointed in the big bargaining team and the Lewis team. They could've easily waited past the deadline and negotiated the above provisions. But let's be honest, Lewis & Company had no stomach nor the dedication to lead another strike.

October 12, 2016 at 8:30 AM

By: Rod Estvan

How can the CTU contract force the City to hand over TIF money?

responding to George Cruz: I am not clear how a contract between the CTU and CPS Board can create anything that would be binding in relationship to TIFs. Illinois state law that allows Illinois cities and towns to create TIFs does not give taxing bodies subject to TIFs any legal rights to create contractual agreements relating to tax dollars diverted to TIFs.

October 12, 2016 at 10:35 AM

By: Sean Ahern

Proposed contract

It's up to the CTU members now. The threat of a strike before the election seemed to give them some leverage against the ed deformers - both Dems and Repubs. Might have even forced some reality based questions into the next Presidential "debate." Was this a cave into the Hillary/Emmanuel gang now that Clinton appears to be the presumptive victor?

Sean Ahern

NYC teacher/UFT member

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