'Stronger together' may be the lie as measured against recent contract sellouts...Chicago Teachers Union members growing in doubts about the huge changes being demanded by the leadership in the CTU Constitution and By-Laws...

The prolonged debate within the 25,000-member Chicago Teachers Union over whether the union should approve a massive set of changes in the union's Constitution and By-Laws continues into December 2017, despite repeated attempts by the union's officers and some of the rest of the CTU leadership to ram through the changes. Instead of proposing serious changes to the union's basic governance one-at-a-time, the current leadership has tried to ram through a large number of changes all at once. And while most of the focus has been on whether the current CTU members should accept a proposal to bring in Chicago charter school teachers into CTU, other proposals are equally or more controversial -- while getting almost no attention.

Three of the four current CTU officers. Left to right, Michael Brunson, Karen Lewis, and Jesse Sharkey. Despite major health issues, Lewis continues to insist she remain as President of the 25,000-member union, while Sharkey handles most of the day-to-day chores on the union's public relations and administration. Members have begun objecting to the claims of union "victories" while noting that contracts have fallen further and further behind.And so the debate in the schools has been growing, partly energized by the fact that the contract that the leadership rammed through in October 2016 has become more and more evidently the sellout that a small group of the members noted when it was brought in at the last minute on Columbus Day 2016.

The most important issue facing the members of the union is why the leadership is insisting on voting on ALL of the major changes in one vote. The major changes include:

-- Bringing charter school workers into the CTU

-- Declaring the CTU a "social justice union"

-- Giving dictatorial power to the union President without House of Delegates or member review

And there are others.

The leadership has devoted all of its resources into pitching for the entire package and has blocked every attempt to bring the issues up one at a time. The claim that the union budget can't support separate votes on each issue is a false one. The leadership continues to expand certain union activities despite the claims of poverty. The fact that the union has lost 10,000 members in a little more than a decade is important, but the main reason for the membership loss is that the union failed to stop the expansion of charter schools during the years of the CTU presidency of Tom Reece, Deborah Lynch, Marilyn Stewart, and (since 2010) Karen Lewis. Despite massive spending on lobbying, the union has failed to stop charter expansion in Chicago. As a result, charter schools across Chicago have continued to add "campuses" to their original charters, draining students away from the city's real public schools.


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