Chicago Teachers Union officers challenged by Members First

The battle between CORE (the Coalition of Rank and File Educators) and Members First for the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union will take place on May 17 and it should be interesting.

Both caucuses are strong and sent out flyers this week to CTU members. Members First's literature blared out, "Who Wants Their Dues to Go Up? No One!"

This is a big concern among members of the group that formed a couple of years ago to question the CTU budget and the foundation that has been shoveling out hundreds of thousands of dollars to political candidates while burning through its reserves that have resulted in deficits. This has also resulted in cutting field reps and other clerical workers in the CTU offices.

Members First's officer candidates are President Therese Boyle, Vice President Victor Ochoa, Recording Secretary Deborah Yaker and Financial Secretary Sharon Davis.

In its flyer, Members First says that it will demand transparency and will fight for competitive salaries. Those are not just hollow words. Boyle has looked closely at the budget to find deficits and questionable expenses that the union had to admit to. Boyle also said earlier that the union should be demanding a higher raise than just 5% because of what teachers have lost in the last contracts when the fight was strong against the pension pickup.

CORE is headed by CTU President Jesse Sharkey, Vice President Stacy Davis Gates, Recording Secretary Maria Moreno and Financial Secretary Christel Williams-Hayes.

CORE says in its flyer that it fought against and stopped school closings and turnarounds, stopped charter growth, had the highest charter unionization in the country, won the greatest TIF surplus in history, restored pension levy, led first ever mayor runoff, secured funding security, and won rights to challenge discipline and vote down excessive tests for first time.

The CORE accomplishments are real – its political strategy has resulted in a fight back to protect public education from the proliferation of charter schools that have closed many public schools and eliminated many teachers jobs, especially in the African American community. That was how CORE started.

The May 1 CTU House of Delegates will feature a debate between the union president candidates and vice president candidates.


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