Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates Oct. 3, 2018, Meeting

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) monthly October, 2018 House of Delegates (HOD) meeting took place Wednesday, Oct. 3.

The meeting began once again with delegates questioning the finances and why the union burned thru $5 million and no one knew about it. CTU President Jesse Sharkey said the main issue where the union overspent was on salaries (a similar complaint government and corporate entities make when it comes to expenses), because the union employed the same number of 60 full-time staff today even though there are about 15,000 less CTU members paying dues, about one-third less members. "We have to do more with less," he said.

CTU interim financial director Kathy Catalano said she saw no criminal activity when it comes to over spending union money. Sharkey admitted once again that the union ran an unbalanced budget and they need to rebuild its reserves.

One elementary delegate asked why did the Chicago Board of Education (CBOE) only give a temporary assigned teacher to break up a classroom of 40 teachers, and not a full-time position since the new teacher is a veteran. One teacher at the school is on 'military leave.' The teacher needs to speak to the union field rep, Sharkey said.

Another high school delegate said she was uncomfortable doing 'learning walks' with the network, which would make it appear they "are telling on teachers." Discuss it at the Professional Problems Committee where elected teachers, delegate and principal find solutions to contractual problems, the leadership said.

About 72 CTU members did not clear the fingerprint background re-check, and only a handful were teachers. Most were security personnel. A moment of silence was given to teachers who passed away and were remembered, including Substance founder and union stalwart George Schmidt who recently died from lung cancer and Dave Eaton, a 40-year veteran at Columbus Elementary School. Many reported dying from cancer, including a current 43-year-old teacher.

The union said the board hired about 900 new teachers this year and only a few so far filled in the deceptively labeled cards created by the Illinois Policy Institute (anti-union pro business group funded heavily by anti-union Gov. Bruce Rauner) to not be members of the union.

New VP Stacy Gates made a speech with the theme 'You are winning!' now that the elected school board issue is front and center and fight for living wage salary is gaining traction (anti-union Amazon agreed to $15/hour minimum for its workers).

Washington High School delegate Frank McDonald tried to make a point of order during Gates' speech, but was quickly ruled out of order by Sharkey (first time I remember a point of order at the mic during an officer's report). Sharkey said during his speech that the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will make an announcement about a huge student enrollment drop from about 371,000 students last year to about 360,000 students, which could ignite another round of school closings and consolidations.

The union caucus Core has discussed making housing affordability part of the contract fight since many low-income families are forced to move out of the city as rents continue to rise.

Sharkey said the current contract ends June, 2019. He said part of the fight should be to support the charter school teachers who may go on the first charter school strike ever, and start negotiations in January instead of waiting til the next summer (could be difficult since a new mayor will be elected possibly not til the spring if there is a run-off and the mayor runs the schools in this town!).

A resolution to honor former CTU President Karen Lewis was passed, while a recommendation from the CTU Executive Board to endorse Democrat JB Pritzker for governor did not pass after many delegates spoke against the endorsement because the Pritzker name is synonymous with union-busting. The Hyatt Hotel workers are currently on strike and JB has done nothing to help settle the strike, one delegate pointed out.

[Originally published on Second City Teachers,].


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