Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates Oct. 31, 2018, meeting

The meeting of the House of Delegates began on time at 4:15 p.m. with the pre-meeting Question and Answer period. Here are some of the things the delegates brought up.

One principal would not allow teachers to go to an ISBE class on restorative justice on a PD day. The principal told the teachers to attend the class on their time, not CPS’ time. CTU President Jesse Sharkey referred it to a field rep to work out some sort of accommodation.

Frank McDonald from Washington High questioned if there is a conflict of interest as Brandon Johnson is a candidate for office and received an endorsement and money from the CTU. Brandon is also on the CTU’s PAC/Legislative Committee. Jesse said there is no conflict; monetary awards to candidates are determined by the Executive Committee that consists of the CTU officers and the trustees.

Another delegate asked if the CTU was going to support a former teacher running for alderman in February. Jesse stated that the CTU is still interviewing potential candidates and endorsements will be made when all the candidates have had a chance to pitch themselves for CTU support. (Note: we won’t know which candidates will actually gather enough signatures for ballot access until the first week of December).

Another delegate asked if the CTU is going to ask for an increase in the number of sick days that can be banked. Currently, the cap is 40 and, except for those newly hired, most teachers are at the cap and are unwillingly to lose those days by giving them to the CPS. The result is many schools having to try to maintain education with “sick” teachers and not enough subs.

One delegate has been observed three times in the last month by her administration. She was told that such observations are informal and will not be used for rating the teacher at the end of the school year. Jesse said that principals can enter any class when ever they want but if it is only for this one teacher, there is a possibility that it is for purposes of intimidation of retaliation. The delegate said that other teachers have also experienced this but none have had three visits.

The delegate from A.A. Libby school said his school was supposed to be one of 160 social workers was supposed to hire. So far only 52 have been hired as the CPS claims it is difficult to find qualified candidates. CTU will talk with the CPS and try to push them along in their hiring.

The last question was about the inequities in the number of hours and the amount of pay a teacher can receive for being a sports coach. Jesse agreed that there are inequities and that he would work in contract negotiations to try to make things fairer.

The regular meeting then started at 4:45 p.m. This was Halloween and there were very few people attending. After a head count was conducted, it was announced that there were about 290 members present, roughly 55 over the minimum quorum required.

Officers’ reports

Recording Secretary Michael Brunson – Michael announced that there will be “Benefits Open Enrollment” fairs on November 19 from 2:30-6:00 p.m. at the Garfield Park office; 2651 W. Washington which can be used to modify a CTU members health coverage.

Michael also announced the AFT-Chicago Black Caucus is showing the movie, “I am Not Your Negro” at the CTU Building, 1901 W. Carroll, with a Reception at 4:30 p.m., the screening at 5:00 p.m., and a discussion afterwards.

At this time retiree delegate Pat Knazze motioned to “suspend the rules” in order to reconsider the endorsement of J.B. Pritzker for governor. I stood in support of Pat’s motion but it was clear that the overwhelming majority of the House, roughly 60%, were against it.

Financial Report – Kathy Catalano - Kathy reported that as of August 31 the CTU was $3,234,885 in the red. However, she pointed out that CTU is expected to received a large check from the CPS for dues collected from the membership in September. She was not concerned about the deficit.

Vice President – Stacy Davis Gates – Stacy reported that the Acero (formally UNO charter schools) teachers voted about 98% to authorize a strike in the near future if they cannot get a settlement with the charter school board. Their actions are seen as a precedent for us with our negotiations starting early in 2019.

It was reported that next Tuesday the CTU will hold an election night watch party at the CTU building.

Stacy then yielded the microphone to Jawanza Malone, Executive Director of the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization. He spoke at length on the relation between school closings, poor housing, and gentrification and how this all adds to driving mainly people of color out of the City and of the State. The loss of 52,000 students from CPS schools in the last 17 years affects the number of teachers who have jobs and the amount of contributions received by the Pension Fund.

President’s Address

Jesse spoke mainly about upcoming contract negotiations. He recognized the importance of increasing the number of sick days that can be banked. He also explained that CPS was supposed to meet with the CTU under the current Agreement and try to formulate ways to reduce health care costs. If this doesn’t happen then the CPS can raise the rates the teachers have to pay. CPS has refused to meet with the CTU in the last three years Jesse doesn’t intend to let this happen again. Lastly, he stressed the importance of delegates sending information on class size. Besides having a chance to ameliorate class size in some schools, it gives the CTU information in bargaining. Then CPS cannot argue that class size is not an issue if we have the facts to back it up.

Items for Action

The House agreed to the appointment of Jackie Price Ward as a CTU Trustee.

Planned endorsements of candidates for municipal offices in 2019 were tabled as the process was not yet completed.

Theresa Daniels, retiree delegate, tried to introduce a short resolution censuring Bruce Rauner. Jesse ruled it out of order and then explained how Theresa could try to bring it to a vote. Theresa officially “objected” to his ruling. Then it was up to the House to support or oppose Jesse’s decision. They supported Jesse’s “out or order decision” overwhelmingly.

Department/Committee Reports

Organizing – Marty Ritter – Marty asked the House to help CTU member and Tenth Ward Alderman get on the ballot in February by going to her Ward and helping to collect signatures/. He also stressed the importance of supplying the CTU with class size reports.

Pension – Jay Rehak – Jay, who was elected nine years ago to the Pension Board along with Lois Ashford, will no longer be president of the CTPF. He thanked the House for their support and cited a number of accomplishments that he and Lois had worked for. Among them are increasing minority brokerage work with the CTPF from 23% to 42%, divested CTPF funds from gun manufacturers and private prison companies, successfully sued the Northern Trust for basically lying to us over investments, and moving the CTPF from being rated in the lower half of public pension funds to number one currently.

New Business

By this time there was no quorum so no official action could be taken but Theresa Daniels was able to read her proposed censure of Bruce Rauner as a comment into the House record. (It turns out that my brother, Larry, was a co- author of the resolution.

The delegate from Piccolo school pointed out the parents of pre-k children have to go personally to Coleman school to enroll the children for next year. This is a hardship for parents with no car. I think this is intentional to try to prevent children of color from getting into this preferred program.

The meeting then adjourned at 6:26 p.m..

[Retired teacher and delegate George Milkowski distributes his House of Delegates reports via email. This update includes his corrections.]


November 3, 2018 at 8:55 AM

By: Kimberly Goldbaum

Great notes, George M.

If I didn't read it in Substance, I wouldn't get it from anywhere. People's memories don't fill in the blanks of good note taking and sound journalism.

November 4, 2018 at 5:54 AM

By: Jo-Anne Cairo

George M.'s HOD report

George, did you give us the Cliff Notes version at he CTU retiree meeting? Did anyone realize that Frank's questions are legal? Maybe Frank was being nice because CTU is not private anymore. It is public now.

November 4, 2018 at 3:17 PM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

Did Jesse not want Pritzger Endorsed?

Unionists have been coming to me at mtgs and asking if I felt that seemingly union prez Jesse Sharkey had not wanted to endorse J. B. Pritzger. My first response has been, "No, it was the House of Delegates who didn't." But then I realized that he possibly could have changed that had he felt like V.P. Stacy who expressed her strong regret at the non-endorsement. And then Jesse didn't support my resolution to censure Rauner. In a similar circumstance, former prez Karen Lewis had managed to get the House to vote up an endorsement for the unpopular Dem Pat Quinn. The House often follows the union president's recommendation.


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