CORE leadership misses its own non-meeting 'meeting' on April 25 at Letter Carriers union hall... Discussion held despite failure of leaders to show up...

Once the militant rank and file leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union, CORE degenerated into a one-party dictatorship under CTU president Karen Lewis after being re-elected without opposition in the 2016 union election. Part of the problem now facing the CTU rank and file is that the CORE Steering Committee is refusing to hold meetings or allow the caucus's member to vote on resolutions that may oppose the policies and proposals of Karen Lewis and CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey. CORE failed to hold its monthly meetings in both March and April 2017 for the first time since the caucus was organized in 2009. The reasons was that "Steering" was trying to avoid a resolution from CORE opposing a union leadership's plan to do another one day "strike" on May 1, 2017 (there had been a one day so-called "strike" on April 1, 2016). CORE's rank and file members have also been angered as they learned about all the loopholes in the contract that was rushed through after a last minute settlement on Columbus Day 2016, hours before a strike would have begun.Things became stranger and stranger within the Caucus Of Rank and file Educators (CORE) on "meeting" day, April 25, 2017. Three regional CORE events, instead of one CORE meeting, were once again scheduled, despite growing criticism from the caucus's members. The three events were scheduled to be held at La Villa Restaurant (North Side), Letter Carriers Hall (Mid South), and St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church (Far South). All were supposed to begin at 4:30 on Tuesday, April 25, 2017.

When this reporter arrived at the Letter Carriers Hall at about 4:30, the only persons present were Marianne Anderson, Pat Knazze, Bill Lamme, Lee White who said Pat Jones was in the lobby, and this reporter. Later arrivals were Michael Shea, Katie Osgood, and Lisa Levy -- and finally Sarah Chambers (a member of the CORE "Steering Committee").

No one was there to chair the event when everyone arrived. No evidence of an impending meeting was there. CORE's meeting message reminder was still on line, stating the the event was to be held at Letter Carriers (and the other two locations). No one had been notified that the meeting at Letter Carriers Hall would not take place. So those who arrived at 4:30 began discussing union events and waiting.

We continued to wait until after five o'clock.

At about 5:20 Sarah Chambers arrived, she said, following another meeting (she didn't say about what or why it was a priority over the CORE event). All of those present then gathered around the one round table in the room and decided to hold an impromptu meeting and discuss the announced agenda.

Discussion focused on activist teachers and what could be done to support and protect them. There is a long list now of activist teachers and union leaders, including Sarah Chambers, who have been attacked by CPS officials. Activist teacher Sarah Chambers explained her situation at Saucedo school and updated the group on how she has been suspended ("with pay") by the administration.

One suggestion for support for activist teachers was for individuals to be notified in the fashion of a "flash mob" and then those individuals would descend upon a site with signs and flyers in support of the threatened activist. This was done during the first year of CORE, but hasn't been replicated much since.

Furloughing of teachers was also discussed and the subsequent repercussions of furloughing. Mention was made of filing for unemployment if teachers were forced into unemployment. The history of the early end of the year in 1976 and the "payless paydays" in 1979-1980 were explained.

May 1 activities were touched upon.

Lastly, the CTU budget was discussed. Because of the drop in union membership caused by closing of schools, there has been a drop in union dues revenue. In addition, the CTU is still paying rent on the space at the Merchandise Mart because of a long-term lease entered into by a previous union leadership and the decision of the new leadership to move out of the Mart and into the new union headquarters on Carroll St. Chambers said that It has been difficult to lease out the space previously occupied by the CTU. Consequently, in order to balance the budget, she said, there will have to adjustments to the CTU budget. Various options, such as slimming down departments or seeking funds from other sources were mentioned. Notes taken by Sarah Chambers at the meeting will be presented to the CORE steering committee.

This meeting ended at about 6:20.

Subsequently, those who were present found out that the scheduled meeting at St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church was taking place. It was not known if the meeting at La Villa took place (reports to Substance indicate that the same thing happened at LaVilla as happened at Letter Carriers). The usual chairs of the CORE meeting at Letter Carriers Hall were unable to be present because of an LSC meeting for one and illness for the other, we were told.


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