CTU leadership fails to bring home a vote for massive changes to the union Constitution and By-Laws at November 1, 2017 meeting... Quorum call ends meeting and postpones major vote at least until January...

Despite massive preparation that included rehearsals at the union's Executive Board meeting, the leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union were unable to bring in a "yes" vote on a list of massive changes to the union's Constitution and By-Laws at the November 1, 2017 meeting of the union's House of Delegates. After nearly 45 minutes of debate on the massive (54 pages) of proposed changes to the basic governing rules of the union, a quorum call proved that there were not enough voting members left at the HOD meeting for any vote to be legal. As a result, CTU Vice President, Jesse Sharkey, called the meeting over. (The union's President, Karen Lewis, is currently hospitalized with a stroke).

Despite a great deal of planning by the union's officers and many delegates remaining in the CORE (Caucus Of Rank and file Educators) caucus, the failure of the leadership to bring in the vote represents, in the eyes of many delegates, the culmination of at least two years of growing mistrust of the leadership from the union's rank-and-file in the schools. The mistrust has grown since the union's members finally received copies of the contract that they were forced to vote on after the bargaining team brought it home on Columbus Day 2016. The proposed contract came before the members more than a year and a half after its predecessor had expired, as the union's leadership continued negotiating rather than going on strike when the old contract expired.

Despite assurances that the new contract (which extends from July 1, 2015 through June 30 2019) was the best ever, once the actual wording of the agreement had finally reached the members (nearly a year after they had been told to vote on it), it became clear that the deal was a bad one. This has led to growing dissatisfaction in the ranks, with the leadership's base slowly narrowing to the point where fewer and fewer delegates are staying for the monthly HOD meetings and a growing number are trying to make explicit and organized their anger.


November 2, 2017 at 1:12 PM

By: Susan Hickey, LCSW

HOD was a joke

I left before the fireworks began, unfortunately. I noticed (sitting in the back of the hall) how there were fewer delegates at last night's meeting from the one I went to in September.

A number of takeaways from yesterday I will detail. I had one delegate come up to me and Joanne Cairo angry at how the union is doing nothing for teachers in the classroom. 'Why should I have to deal with social justice when I am not getting union support for all of the paperwork and other demands of me to do my job as a teacher'. This was being said as well as there is too much emphasis on social justice when the health care benefits are crappy.

I was taken off the bargaining team just a month before it was settled and I was credited as being on the team in the contract book. I tried to get a copy of the contract book and was told I could not have one! I am still getting emails, phone calls and text messages from clinicians about the contract but cannot have the contract book. I was told I can view the contract on line.

I had a sense that the CTU staff is at odds with the CTU leadership by some of the comments I overheard and were said to me. I hope the CTU leadership has not forced them to take furlough days to help their budgetary difficulties.

It is looking like the CTU leadership is not listening to the frustrations of the rank and file. They are increasingly becoming out of touch and act like the CPS management more and more.

November 4, 2017 at 11:20 AM

By: Susan Zupan

Quorum Call

I am going to share something I posted with CORE after there was a posting (from whom I will simply identify as X) calling me out for being the one to call for the quorum count:

With all due respect (which from X I have not perceived coming from you in particular directed to any others with a differing viewpoint in quite a while now), if CTU wants to completely and officially alter its own constitution and direction going forward, I think a QUORUM should be present to do that. How does following Robert's Rules of Order or wherever the quorum rules and procedures come from "undermine the business of CTU and CORE's agenda"? CTU and CORE are ANTI following and abiding by rules of order? Someone is "livid" over that?

There were at least three if not more delegates in the house yelling out for a quorum call from the floor THAT I HEARD. And THAT was being completely ignored by the stage. I do not like opposition voices being IGNORED or manipulated into SHUTTING UP and SHUTTING DOWN. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired of the way these HOD meetings are all a "done deal" and the HOD delegates are supposed to act like the old City Council or something kissing the ring(s) of the mayor(s). CORE leadership has turned into what it started out fighting in the HOD.

If/When there is a quorum and if/when the constitutional changes pass, then it will be acceptable. Otherwise, everyone knows that a whole lot of CTU business for a long while now has been conducted with less and less participation of a quorum of delegates in the HOD, and this is just not good. The business before the House on Wednesday was, to me, possibly greater than a contract vote. I have not called for a quorum otherwise; and I only questioned once prior when other voices seemed to do so. (But how DARE I or any others do even that, X, or fear your wrath?)

November 5, 2017 at 6:27 AM

By: Patricia Ann Breckenridge

“Charters” are private

“Charters” are private. IMO CTU merger will transform CTU into a private sector union vulnerable to a market based economy without tax and government funding and support for public sector unions.

November 7, 2017 at 8:31 PM

By: Craig Cleve

Quorum count

Although I thank Susan for preserving my anonymity in the quorum matter, I'm am the "x" to whom she refers.

Susan, I don't believe I called you out as the person who called for a quorum, and in point of fact, it wasn't you. The last speaker made an off-mike, off-hand comment after disrespecting the chair and complaining that she wasn't going to get a chance to speak.

She was five people back in line. Jesse took pity on her (no other way to say it)and assured her she would get the final word. She didn't like that she was going to have to wait, and she went on another rant. At that point, she wondered aloud, "And is there even a quorum?". At that, she sat down.

I was at the mike. All of this played out two feet from me. I heard NO other cries for a quorum.

Susan, if I recall correctly, you asked if a quorum call had been made by the last speaker. It hadn't, but Jesse asked her, and she responded, "Call it!".

My apologies, but anything else is revisionist history.

November 7, 2017 at 9:18 PM

By: Susan Zupan


I went to the mic (point of order or point of information, I forget) after hearing various call-outs (two or three or even more) about a quorum. I asked if someone was calling for a quorum. From the stage Jesse Sharkey then directly asked me, "Are you calling for a quorum, Susan?" So I answered, "Yes."

I would choose not to label differing viewpoints, especially as events happen in real time from different vantage points in a large setting, as revisionist history.

November 8, 2017 at 5:41 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

How to be truly 'stronger together'...

Having missed a couple of HOD meetings (health; aging) I was interested in how the meeting on November 1 was being run. It was run by Robert's Rules of Order, as the chairman (Jesse Sharkey) noted. For example, I called a point of order when one officer (Maria Moreno) tried to begin the debate on the Constitution and By-Laws during her financial secretary's report.

By November 1, I had read everything available about the proposal to bring Chi ACTS into CTU and was ready to speak and vote against it.


First, our ability to be "stronger together" can be just as strong when we are separate locals -- and even separate unions. The strongest years for the CTU came during the 1980s, when CTU had joined with all the other unions representing workers in Chicago Public Schools in a coalition of unions. We all had the same contract expiration date, and so -- in 1983, 1985, 1985 and 1987 -- we all struck together.

THAT was "stronger together" against the BOSS, and our contracts from back then proved it.

The attacks on school worker unions during the 1990s and since have demonstrated that we can't be nice with the BOSS. That is exactly the problem in 2017. Too many people in the leadership of CTU have been making backroom deals with the BOSS. The biggest example, before I was purged from CTU research by the current officers, came early. It was the surrender on the four percent raise that was coming for the last year of the five-year contract that had been negotiated by Marilyn Stewart and her team when she was President.

The current leaders of the union (once, by the way, my long time friends) gave away that four percent. Why? For reasons I still don't know. I was ready to testify about CPS finances when the plug was pulled on that grievance.

Since then, these deals have taken more and more from the membership. List a few: The two-tier pay scales, crazy footnotes to the pay and benefits (read the messiness of the current contract), and other concessions from the CTU are among the reasons why things are worse now than at any time in 40 years.

In the USA, union have two main jobs: negotiate strong contracts for the members and then enforce those contracts strongly.

Stronger Together will only be true when the CTU once again is working from a position of strength and when the union's people stop explaining the BOSS's versions of reality regularly, from the local school level to citywide and beyond.

Charter school workers need a common contract and common contract expiration date. Until then, the CTU, despite all the carefully rehearsed speeches -- such as those we heard on November 1 and read in the current Chicago Union Teacher -- will be reasons to vote against the proposed changes. Weaker we've become, thanks to sellouts and obfuscations.

If the leadership wants a serious discussion of changes to the Constitution and By-Laws, then each of the major proposals brought before us much be dealt with separately by a separate vote. The manipulation in the current attempt to make more than three dozen changes in a 54 page document by one vote is an insult to democracy -- and to the "transparency" that supposedly guided the current leadership (CORE, of which I was a founding member and in which I am still a lifetime member) into power.

November 8, 2017 at 2:17 PM

By: Craig Cleve


You're right, Susan.

November 11, 2017 at 9:06 AM

By: Jean Schwab


I think calling a quorum was good. We need to continue talking about this. I think that Rahm's worst nightmare is having CTU join with Charter schools,we will be stronger together. I am glad that teachers are expressing their frustrations with the contract and working conditions and think that with us binding together can solve these problems. Actually Charter schools are facing the same problems we are and together we can make a difference.

November 12, 2017 at 10:15 PM

By: Susan Zupan

Trojan Horse

I respectfully disagree, Jean. I completely agree with George on his "stronger together" as separate entities analysis.

What happens to CTU when PRIVATE BUSINESS SECTOR employees join, and we are no longer a 100% public sector union? This has not been discussed in any way, except for us to be told by leadership that, "yes, things will be 'complicated'." Sorry, but for this and other issues/concerns, for me that's not enough of an explanation or layout for what we might be in for ahead.

I judge that charters joining CTU might be a Trojan Horse, and the real powers-that-be wish this and watch as we role it into the the Chicago Teachers Union and its Executive Board and House of Delegates.

If neighborhood public schools continue to decrease in enrollment as charters increase, what happens to CTU? An eventual PRIVATE SECTOR, charter school take-over? Or the opposite, which appears to be the case right now: charters decrease in enrollment, so we, what, fight to keep those PRIVATE, FOR-PROFIT BUSINESSES/schools from closing?

My understanding is that charters will have a higher per capita power on the Executive Committee than other functional groups of present CTU members anyway. Really?!

IF anyone guaranteed that charter teachers joining CTU would result in charters being flipped or flipped back into neighborhood public schools, I would vote in favor of the change. However, to date there has been zero such thing, and there will not be within the establishment, Randi Weingarten and UFT-run, charter-supporting AFT.

Basic Question: Do we stand for a free and equal public education for all children in a well-funded neighborhood public school or NOT?

November 13, 2017 at 1:13 PM

By: Edward F Hershey

Charters also decreasing


a few points:

Most ChiACTS schools, and many if not most Chicago Charters, saw enrollment declines this year -- meaning they also saw layoffs. A number of charter schools have closed (this was Claypool's excuse for trying to open more, given the "charter cap" in the contract.

There was a discussion among active parents, teachers and stakeholders at a ChiACTS school, where management was threatening to close. That discussion was to keep the school open, and make it a public school. That wasn't the end result -- the school ended up staying open as a unionized charter. But there is the potential to do it.

I agree that the union needs to make its messaging on Charters clear in the media -- Jesse spoke of the need to do so at the House meeting.

But I really don't see the "stronger apart" argument. All of the members are served by the same apparatus. It would be better, in terms of holding that apparatus accountable, if all member representatives were in the same room.

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