Post-strike, CTU emphasizes contract enforcement: Report on the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates meeting on Dec. 4, 2019

Because I stopped CTU President Jesse Sharkey to ask him a question, the meeting started a bit lat, at 4:20 p.m., with the traditional, pre-meeting Question and Answer period.

The Oglesby school delegate asked when staff members can expect to receive their retro pay. Jesse said the CPS is “trifling,” that it has privatized its payroll department which is understaffed, so he said we don’t know when they will get the retro pay processed, but the CTU will spread the word to the membership as soon as it finds out.

Karen Soto of Waters School asked when we will be getting the 3 raise. Jesse answered the same as the previous question. Also, Karen said the most recent check did not indicate the Lane or Step that the staff member is on. Jesse wasn’t aware of that and will look into it.

A delegate said that a grievance had been filed for ten teachers who had to attend special training for the Bridge program. The training was held over the summer and they were paid $40.90 instead of their hourly rate. Jesse said he will look into the grievance’s status as the Field Rep who handled it is no longer a CTU staff member.

Jim Vail of Hammond school asked if anything can be done for his co-workers who are teaching Early Childhood and Pre-K classes. They are being slammed with paperwork, much of which overlaps, that is required by the federal government, state government, and CPS. Jesse knows this is a problem and will be in talks with CPS personnel to see if something can be done. The extra paperwork is due to state and federal requirements as they provide some of the special funding for these programs.

A delegate asked about the new 244 sick day bank provision. She was told that sick days that were “grandfathered” in before the last contract would be kept in a separate bank. Any sick days from the start of the last contract (40 days maximum) until now would be part of the new bank that may go up to 244 days.

A delegate asked if PSRPs can be required to swipe in and out for their breaks and their lunch times, even if they are not leaving the building. Jesse said that this is just “stupid” and the delegate should start the process through the school’s PPC and try to resolve it.

Wendy Weingarten of LaSalle II also asked about the increase of sick days that one might accumulate. She was told that they can be used to extend one’s service time that can lead to an earlier retirement. Frank McDonald of Washington High handed Jesse a paper copy of an e-mail he sent to the CTU on June 5, 2019. The e-mail explains that at the June meeting two (now former) CTU trustees tried to amend the CTU budget to insure that CTU dues money was kept separate from political expenses. The amendment was shot down and Vice President Stacy Davis Gates, who went to a regular microphone said this “is the same argument that Bruce Rauner paid Mark Janus to make, that took away our rights as a Union,” and “this amendment is a very right wing reductionist, conservative argument that seeks to disarm us and silence us.” (Both quotes from Certified Transcripts – HOD). Frank said he did not bring this insulting issue up earlier because we were starting to get into negotiations for the new contract and it was important to be unified, but since that is behind us he asked that Stacy apologize to the House for those remarks. Jesse quickly dismissed this and stated that Stacy will not apologize.

The Sawyer school delegate asked if PSRPs might be required to do tasks that are beyond their job descriptions. Jesse said the affected PSRP should get the assignment in writing from the principal as a way of protecting him/herself. If the principal refuses to do so, then send an e-mail detailing the assignment and asking to “clarify” it. This is a way to get a paper trail in case there are problems later on.

The delegate from Back of the Yards High School said a co-worker is having deductions to the CTU’s PAC fund that she didn’t remember authorizing and wants to have it stopped. Jesse said he will have it checked out and corrected, but added that the $2/month deduction is not that high, but is important in our political endorsements.

Delegate Lewis from Taft High School complained that the CPS is requiring P.E. teachers to have a third certification for being a lifeguard. The CTU will discuss this with the CPS, but Jesse feels it is an attempt by the CPS to “cover the ass” after a drowning at Kennedy High last year.

The actual meeting began at 4:54 p.m. with the officers’ and administrative reports. Recording Secretary Christel Williams-Hayes announced that the CTU is restarting a “peace” brunch on Dr. M. L. King day this year in an attempt to build bridges to various Chicago clergy. She would like to have the CTU form a gospel choir and for this and would like to see it become permanent.

Kathy Catalano gave the financial report. She said that we owe the IFT and AFT over $832,000 as part of out “pass through” dues, but also that a lot of this money is eventually returned to the CTU for various union building activities over the year. She also pointed out that we have sublet some more of the remaining space in the Merchandise Mart that we are still responsible for until our lease there expires in a few years. Lastly, Kathy said that for the roughly 1,000 members who took an interest free strike loan, paycheck repayment deductions of $50 a month begin this week.

Financial Secretary Maria Moreno reported that 92% of the membership voted in the strike ending referendum and 81% of those voted “yes.” Maria stressed that now that we have a new Agreement, it is up to the membership to make sure it is enforced. She asked for volunteers to serve on a variety of committees to work to that end.

Maria said that after the Retiree Luncheon on December 12, starting at 1:30 p.m., the retirees may nominate someone for the position of Retiree Functional Vice President to serve on the Executive Board. Lastly, Maria asked for individuals or teams to volunteer to take the annual “Polar Plunge” on March 1 to raise money for people with special needs. Please note: Check with your doctor before joining this. My doctor said I should definitely NOT do this!

Vice President Stacy Davis Gates announced that all charges were dropped against the “CTU 9,” those arrested for criminal trespass during the strike. Stacy spoke of how the strike “politicized” a lot of members and that delegates need to keep this enthusiasm going. She urged the body to get their members to serve on PPCs in the schools and to volunteer for CTU committees.

As we are entering the political season, she asked delegates to try to conduct straw polls to get a feel from the membership as to who, if anyone, we may endorse in the March primary for president. She said the United Teachers of Los Angeles already came out and endorsed a candidate (Sen. Bernie Sanders), but that we will hold off until we have a better sense of the membership’s feelings.

President Jesse Sharkey referred to an argument within the CFL over the use of TIF money. The trade unions thought that we insulted and ignored them during the strike when some CTU members protested at the offices of Sterling Bay, the company getting over $1 billion in tax breaks to develop Lincoln Yards, tax break money that is diverted from the schools and other local government entities. Jesse told the CFL that the money is being misused, that it should be used in blighted areas and the Lincoln Yard area is not blighted. He also pooh-poohed the committee the CFL is planning on setting up to try to work out an agreement over TIFs between the CTU and the trades. (Note: the trades see TIF development as a source of jobs but don’t realize that the money taken from the CPS costs us jobs).

Jesse also criticized the bureaucracy of the CPS. He cited a “portfolio manager” who is paid over $100,000 a year, for what? He also said that as a parent of a CPS student, some network computer analyst, also being paid big bucks, generated a 70+ page multi-colored print out for parents of the school Jesse’s kid attends that shows various aspects of the school. All Networks have this position. Jesse asked what does any of this have to do with educating the kids in the classrooms.

All this leads to a call for volunteers to serve on CTU and joint CTU/CPS committees. There are 18 joint committees needing 5 CTU members each. Additionally, there are 15 CTU committees that need member input. Jesse said, “The CTU needs to continue to be a voice for education in Chicago,” and that can be achieved through active member involvement. Lastly, Jesse said the IFT and AFT are providing some funds to try to organize more charter schools. So far, only 32 of the 100 city charters are unionized.

Items for Action

“CTU Resolution in Solidarity with Striking Teachers in Chile” passed unanimously.

Things started to get a little weird at this point. Jesse asked for a motion to endorse seven candidates in the March primary. A CTU member, Froy Jiminez , walked on the stage and insisted that he be given a chance to speak. He had been on the CTU’s PAC/Leg Committee but was asked to step down when he announced he was running for office a few months ago. Apparently, he was angry that he was not endorsed in his bid for office. Delegate Michelle Gunderson was able to get to the mic and said that Froy’s endorsement had been tabled until next month. She said the announcement by Senate President Cullerton that he will not be seeking re-election has resulted in a need to re-evaluate possible endorsements by the PAC/Leg Committee which needs more time to consider the changed situation. (NOTE: this is not unusual. The CTU usually rolls out endorsements over a 2 or 3 month period before elections).

Then things got more weird! Someone called for a quorum. A quorum would be 242 voting delegates, but after a count was made there were only 240. However, Jesse ruled that a few delegates had not been counted and therefore there was a legitimate quorum. I think Jesse was wrong on this and spoke with him about it after the meeting. In any case, the endorsements where passed by the House. I did not vote on this as I think the quorum was not met. The candidates who were endorsed are:

Illinois House of Representatives

1st District Rep. Aaron Ortiz (CTU member)

3rd District Nidia Carranza (CTU member)

4th District Rep. Delia Ramirez

9th District Lakesia Collins, (SEIU Healthcare member)

21st District Rep. Celina Villanueva

Illinois Senate

10th District Sen. Rob Martwick

13th District Sen. Robert Peters

Note: All House candidates were endorsed by the UWF.

Department/Committee Reports

Legislative. Jesse said the legislative business was already taken care of. Frank McDonald (Washington) said we need to have a full time parliamentarian at our meetings. Jesse said that it is difficult to find someone to take that roll due to the time commitments required.

Pension, Mary Sharon Reilly – Mary Sharon announced the winners in the recent CTPF election. She also said the Pension Board has moved to its new location at 425 S. Financial Place. It is a more secure building and if you need to go there it is helpful to call in advance. Mary Sharon also said State law now allows retirees to work 120 dats a year for the CPS as a sub.

Organizing, Jhoana Maldanado. Jhoana urged new delegates to attend an upcoming workshop to help them in performing their duties. She also said that the CTU will be hosting a summit for LSCs on January 25 in the CTU building.

New Business/Questions and Answers

A delegate asked if the membership will get any interest on the back pay and pay increases that they earned but have not yet been paid. The answer is “no”.

The Marshall High delegate asked how 52-week employees will be able to make up the six strike make-up days. Jesse said he doesn’t know any details, but in the past they were allowed to work some overtime and on some Saturdays to get their proper salaries.

A new delegate said special ed teachers are upset because the case manager is being used for other duties, kids are being pulled suddenly from classes and other problems at her school. Jesse said the CTU needs more details and she should contact the grievance department.

Lastly, the Mollison school delegate asked from where the money will come from to alleviate class sizes before the new automatic trigger kicks. Jesse said it will come from the $35 million fund earmarked for class size reduction. The meeting ended at 6:53 p.m.


Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

5 + 3 =