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Majority of Chicago Teachers Union rank-and-file are saying a loud 'No!' to leadership's proposal for another one-day so-called 'strike'...

By the time Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis led the union's 24,000 active duty members on a one-day "strike" on April 1, 2016, the union leadership had extended contract negotiations for nine months following the expiration of the previous contract (which expired on June 30, 2015). After the one-day "strike," Lewis continued negotiations with the Chicago Board of Education into the 2016 - 2017 school year, then rammed through a "settlement" on the morning of a strike in October 2016. The April 1, 2016 event was the first time in the history of CTU strikes that picket signs stated the "strike" was a "fight for funding" and not a strike "for our contract." The defeat of the union's bargaining in two successive contracts provided the union's members with the worst eight years' pay in the history of CTU bargaining, which stretches back to the late 1960s. By joining the Board of Education and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in claiming that major revenue increases had to come from "Springfield" (as opposed to local property tax sources), the union leadership wound up in an alliance with the boss, an alliance which by early 2017 was clearly being used against the members. As the time narrows before the April meeting of the Chicago Teachers Union's 800-member House of Delegates, it has become clear that the majority of the union's 27,000 members (about 24,000 of whom are active duty; the remainder are retirees like this reporter) are loudly voicing a "No!" to the union leadership's proposal to do yet another one day "strike." The one-day "strike" last year was on April 1, 2016, but had little impact despite claims to the contrary. The union's members did walk out and organize picket lines on April Fool's Day 2016, but after the quickie contract settlement on Columbus Day 2016, suspiciously a month before the November general election, the union's members became more skeptical. When the members learned the hard way, in December 2016 and January-February 2017, that the settlement of the contract had resulted in further losses for the majority of them, the mood had shifted. By March 2017, when the union's president and vice president held a hastily called press conference to explain to the media that they were asking the delegates to go back to their schools and talk up another one-day "strike," the mood was radically different from one year earlier.

It remains to be seen whether those who are still trying to talk up the May Day strike can wrangle a majority vote in the House of Delegates or among the members, more and more evidence in building that the union's members are demanding that the leadership admit that the four-year contract agreed to without a contract strike was a loss for the CTU and that other plans than one-day "strike actions" had to be developed.

But the so-called "strike" of April 1, 2016, while supported by a majority of the union's members, has left a bad taste in the mouths of many. By the time Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis led the union's 24,000 active duty members on a one-day "strike" on April 1, 2016, the union leadership had extended contract negotiations for nine months following the expiration of the previous contract (which expired on June 30, 2015). After the one-day "strike," Lewis continued negotiations with the Chicago Board of Education into the 2016 - 2017 school year, then rammed through a "settlement" on the morning of a strike in October 2016. The April 1, 2016 event was the first time in the history of CTU strikes that picket signs stated the "strike" was a "fight for funding" and not a strike "for our contract." The defeat of the union's bargaining in two successive contracts provided the union's members with the worst eight years' pay in the history of CTU bargaining, which stretches back to the late 1960s. By joining the Board of Education and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in claiming that major revenue increases had to come from "Springfield" (as opposed to local property tax sources), the union leadership wound up in an alliance with the boss, an alliance which by early 2017 was clearly being used against the members.



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